Three prison officers sent on leave; one transferred By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
June 14, 2002

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Three prison officers recommended for disciplinary action by the Kennard Board of Inquiry have been sent on leave and another has been transferred because their actions contributed to the February 23 escape of five high-profile prisoners.

The officers disciplined were all on duty when Shawn Brown, Troy Dick, Andrew Douglas, Mark Fraser and Dale Moore escaped from the Georgetown Prisons on Mashramani Day.

Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, had appointed the board of inquiry to, among other things, investigate the circumstances surrounding the February 23, escape from the Georgetown Prisons of the five high-profile prisoners.

The report was handed over on June 3. It recommended the removal of the Officer-in-Charge at the Georgetown Prisons, Colin Howard, the early retirement of Chief Prison Officers Ido Lyte and Lennox Allen; the withholding of promotion from Cadet Officer Alston Scott; and the dismissal of Prison Officer, Maurice Griffith.

Gajraj told Stabroek News yesterday that Snr Supt of Prisons and Officer in Charge of the Camp Street prison, Howard, as well as Lyte and Allen have been sent on leave pending an investigation. Scott has been transferred to the Mazaruni Penal Settlement. He explained that Scott was still in training and that was the reason why he was being moved around the five prisons.

The minister did not say what action had been taken in the case of Supt of Prisons/Medex Clement Duncan, whom the report said should be relieved of his position as Deputy Officer in Charge of the Georgetown Prison. He said that Griffith had been separated from the Prison Service since April following an internal investigation. The report had criticised the Prisons Directorate for not removing Griffith because of his undesirable record.

Gajraj said too that a number of the report's recommendations are being implemented and security at the institution had been improved since the incident. He told Stabroek News that the personnel in the Operations Room have been increased. The report recommended that at least two officers, one of whom must be a male, should be assigned to this location.

One of the recommendations to tighten security was the presence of an armed guard on duty until the lockdown of the prisons at night. There was no armed sentry although the regulations provide for such a presence on Tuesdays and Thursdays and special occasions. Mash Day was a special occasion. Such a sentry is now in place.

Gajraj confirmed that a net was in place inside the prison fence and that he was advised that the security cameras were all working and that they are serviced regularly. A previous board of inquiry had recommended the installation of the cameras and the placing of a net to catch articles thrown over the prison fence. Another recommendation of a previous inquiry implemented was the establishment of a buffer zone.

Gajraj said that the sentries have been doubled in the Observation Posts on the northern, eastern and southern fences of the prison. However, he explained that he was yet to make a decision about the post on the southwestern section of the perimeter fence as the Kennard report recommended. He explained that a previous board of inquiry had advised against it.

The minister noted that the administrative building is located in that section of the compound and the Prisons Officers' Club is across the road from it.

One of the recommendations in the report was that 25 vacancies existing at the time of the breakout should be filled. Gajraj said that these vacancies have since been filled. He said too that post-entry training was also being conducted with another exercise starting on Monday.