Prison reform high on agenda
Stabroek News
February 28, 2002

Prison reform is high on the government's agenda and, according to Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon, short-term improvements will include increased security at the Camp Street jail.

"The structure at Durban and Camp Streets is short term and therefore the security has to be increased, has to be strengthened, has to be heightened while the more fundamental aspects of reform are finalised, financed and put in place."

With Camp Street being the immediate focus, Dr Luncheon told reporters at his post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, that there were a number of implications for dealing with the prison population including perhaps the use of more aggressive approaches to the segregation and restraint of prisoners. About the latter measure, Dr Luncheon recalled the letters in the press critical of the practice, but said that he was just raising it for consideration.

However, he continued, "in retrospect criminals who could dispatch human life with such wild abandon, with such ease without seemingly any remorse, I think should be able to tolerate some physical obstacles placed around their members to provide some greater security at the facility where they are housed."

Dr Luncheon said that at the Camp Street jail a more enlightened environment existed where they were able to mix freely with all and sundry on certain occasions.

As a result he said that there might very well be an interactive process heightening and stiffening the climate of security consciousness. This couod include, he continued, the possible restriction of traffic and access in the vicinity so that the immediate exit from the jail would not be onto a thoroughfare but into a restricted area out of which one couod then move onto the public thoroughfare.

About the dispersal of the dangerous prisoners to other jails around the country, the Cabinet Secretary said that some of them could be regarded as holding areas. However, he said that the Mazaruni prisons, which had a higher level of security could be used in segregating the dangerous criminals from the rest of the population given the extensive repairs that had been carried out there recently, in implementing the recommendation of another enquiry following the escape of a different set of prisoners.