Search on to locate new central prison
-$35M to improve existing penal system

Stabroek News
June 8, 2003

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Efforts are continuing to locate a site outside the city for a new central prison to replace the one on Camp Street.

Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, speaking at a press conference at GTV on Friday, also disclosed that for 2003 the government had provided $35M for capital projects at the Mazaruni, Timehri and Georgetown prisons.

A tractor for the development of agriculture at New Amsterdam Prison costing $2.9M and other equipment such as body armour and video cameras costing $4.2M have been acquired.

Meanwhile, $7.8M has been allocated for capital expenditure in the Guyana Fire Service for land and support while an additional $24M is to be spent on a fire ambulance and stations and $10.2M for tools, equipment and office furniture.

Gajraj said that he was satisfied with the increased security put in place at the Georgetown Prison and other institutions.

The security measures previously in place were exposed on February 23, 2002, when five of Guyana’s most dangerous criminals shot their way out. The following 15 months have seen them, along with their followers, murdering, robbing, kidnapping and raping citizens. Four of the original escapees are now dead.

“Generally the prison environment remains calm,” Gajraj added.

He said repair works were in progress at the Timehri Prison and the Mazaruni Officers’ Quarters while the Mazaruni Brink Prison Project has recently been completed and some prisoners would be transferred from the city to reduce overcrowding.

And to enable safe and quick transportation between the Mazaruni Prison and its neighbouring communities, a fiberglass boat will be purchased complete with outboard engines and life jackets.

Gajraj stated that the training of prison officers continued “to be a high priority for the prison service and prisoners are learning the skills and attitudes that will enable them to be re-integrated into the society as law abiding citizens, when they are released.”

Two special programmes conducted recently were, the sex offenders’ programme which targeted offending behaviour of inmates incarcerated for sexual offences; and the ceramic and arts class which sought to provide skills training for inmates.

It is expected that very shortly a drug rehabilitation programme will be launched for prisoners located at the Lusignan Prison.

As for the fire service, for this year it had responded to 615 fire calls, of which 118 were electrical fires mainly due to arcing of Guyana Power & Light’s overhead cables.

These fires have resulted in 53 buildings being completely destroyed, eight severely damaged and some 178 persons left homeless.

Minister Gajraj revealed that the fire service carried out fire prevention inspections and made recommendations on 341 government and private premises, processed 37 buildings, issued 847 safety certificates to operate entities, granted 194 licences to store and sell petroleum, delivered 74 lectures on fire prevention and conducted 23 evacuation drills.

He said that the service continued to place great emphasis on the training of fire officers and public education programmes in fire prevention.

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