Prison should be moved from Georgetown
Stabroek News
February 26, 2002

Dear Editor,

Security professionals around Guyana must be squirming (and some laughing) at the thought that activating security cameras and erecting more barbed wire are anything but another plaster for that eyesore they call the Georgetown prison. I believe that it is going to take a mass break out, the death of a few innocent people, and maybe a few ill advised politicians being kidnapped, all rolled into one, to stimulate an appropriate response from those responsible. It would not however be without precedent because the track record of indifference to matters of security, by the Guyanese leadership is well known.

The President almost got a hernia to finally admit that the GDF is a truly professional group of Guyanese with no agenda but to serve their country. This, of course, came long after they had left them to clear the proverbial forest with a penknife, and seconded influential military leaders to non-essential appointments in backwater ministries. But I digress.

The government of Guyana is unnecessarily endangering the inhabitants of and visitors to the city of Georgetown, by continuing to maintain an overpopulated, poorly maintained, and insecure prison in their midst. Every few months I log on to find another group of prisoners on the roof of the jail protesting either their innocence or the conditions in which they are forced to exist. Such a situation is untenable and must not be allowed to continue. Business leaders must use this opportunity to influence some changes because with a few more convicts on the road, their lives could be anything but happier.

Several months ago I recommended the privatization of the prison system and the removal of the Georgetown prison to the heart of the jungle. Today I would go a step further and say that there is an urgent need for a standard and level of discipline that only the military has so far demonstrated. A senior military officer needs to take over the prison system and raise the bar for inmates behavior and incarceration. For those who would want to unshackle prisoners, either go and stand in the shoes of that dead warder or shut up. The shackles are meant to protect the innocent.

Yours faithfully,

Merrill Hyman Sr.