Officials point to improvements since 1999 jailbreak
Guyana Chronicle
March 2, 2002

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THE Ministry of Home Affairs said Thursday that 95 per cent of the recommendations made by a Board of Enquiry, since the August 29, 1999 jailbreak in Camp Street, Georgetown, have been implemented.

These include replacing the barbed wire on the perimeter fence with an x-shaped structure of multi-coil razor type and the erection of a guard tower at the south eastern corner while another on the north eastern corner is still under construction.

Installation of security cameras, floodlights, radio logs between guard towers and the control centre, auditing of arms and ammunition and the placing of catch nets for objects thrown over the walls of the penitentiary are other improvements, officials told the Government Information Agency (GINA).

A GINA news bulletin said the communication centre has been removed to a safer location and is now housed on the upper floor of a building.

It added that, due to the shortage of staff, too, transfers were made to Mazaruni Prison as was also recommended.

GINA said Director of Prisons, Mr Dale Erskine is hoping that members of the public will not criticise the system excessively but support the Administration as the institution is critical to public safety.

He said, while he can understand the criticisms, people should be guarded against arriving at conclusions without having any satisfactory knowledge of the Prison Service and its “multitude of challenges”.

Alluding to questions about capability to protect prison officers and curbing breakouts, Erskine said, before last Saturday, there had not been another escape since August 1999.

He said that was “a remarkable achievement” because, since 1999 Camp Street has admitted a number of “high profile criminals” and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, been working assiduously to ensure the safety of officers and the effective custody of prisoners.