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Prison Service must be professionalised- Ramjattan

first_imgMother’s Day prison celebrations– acknowledges partying inmates could burn down another prisonTechnology and the professionalising of the Guyana Prison Service are a few of the strategies Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has in mind to combat corruption within the prisons.During an Alliance for Change (AFC) press conference, Ramjattan was asked about the infamous images circulated with inmates at the New Amsterdam Prison partying with an expensive arrays of liquor, as well as gambling and smoking.Ramjattan expressed the belief that rogue elements of the Prison Service are colluding with the very prisoners they were supposed to guard. Citing the low salary being earned by prison officers compared to their overseas counterparts, heMinister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattannoted that some of them see nothing wrong with trafficking.The minister related that he was able to observe the Prison and Police system while on a recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona as part of the CariSecure work study tour there. Ramjattan described the system as “extremely advanced”, revealing that many of the officers there are college graduates who are paid a minimum of US$6400. He contrasted this with local officers being paid a maximum of US$400.“I honestly believe that this is being done by some rogue elements in our prison system. The prison warders are doing this, colluding with them (prisoners). There is no doubt in my mind… So you could understand that some of them feel the norm is to go and carry the cocaine for all these big boys, and their families will pay them,” Ramjattan said.“Honesty also comes from the individual knowing that when you do this, it could be a major security risk. Somebody could get high and then burn down the prison,” the minister also added.MeasuresIn terms of technology for the prisons, Ramjattan said he would make an attempt to acquire security scanners. According to Ramjattan, if acquired, the scanners would be placed at the entrance to all prisons, including the prison at Mazaruni, Region Seven.But the minister cautioned that the equipment was expensive. According to Ramjattan, he has held talks with Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, and persons who are inclined to help Guyana in this regard.Prisoners displaying drugs, money and cell phones“Technology is expensive. I will try again this year to get the scanner for all these prisons. We understand, too, that we had a scanner for some place and the people just bypass the scanner; so we really have to professionalise our prison warders,” Ramjattan said.Besides the pictures, a video of the party- loving prisoners had also come to light. The video had shown some of the same prisoners featured in photos shared on social media, not only drinking alcoholic beverages, but smoking marijuana and costing a significant amount of cash.In one clip, a prisoner is filmed counting at least 12 single $5000 bills as he places them on a plate that was filled with what appeared to be cannabis and other prohibited substances.Another clip showed the prisoners boasting about the “sweet life” that they are enjoying despite awaiting trial on rape, murder, robbery under arms, simply larceny, and gun-related offences.ResignationsThere are those who see the prevailing lack of control in the prisons in the context of 2016’s fire that resulted in the deaths of over a dozen prisoners, as well as last year’s jail break and fire that gutted most of the Camp Street Prison; and they have called for heads to roll.In particular, the Indian Action Committee (IAC) has called for Ramjattan himself to be held accountable by President David Granger for the continuing lapses in the security sector.According to the IAC in a recent statement, “Minister of Public Security and Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan has proved himself to be incapable, inept and incompetent to carry out the political responsibility for the prison service, given the spate of unfortunate events which have taken place under his leadership of the sector.”While Granger had recently expressed worry about the lapse at the prison, the IAC had specifically called on the President to immediately request Minister Ramjattan’s resignation, failing which he should be dismissed. Nor did it stop at Ramjattan.“The IAC is also of the belief that the Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, is also incapable, inept and incompetent to administer the prison system of Guyana, and the organisation is calling on President Granger to request his resignation, or failing which, to dismiss him,” the IAC had said in its release.last_img read more

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