Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee lauded prison officers for their commitment to their jobs, saying the public may not always be aware of the risks they take to ensure their safety, on the occasion of Guyana Prison Service Week 2011.
“Prisons officers are called to protect the public by managing offenders and assisting in rebuilding persons with behaviour challenges. As Minister of Home Affairs and your minister, I have been inspired by the work that you have been doing,” he said. A Government Information Agency (GINA) press release said for more than 27 years the Guyana Prison Service has set aside a period heralded as Prison Service Week aimed at reflecting on the progress it has made to ensure public safety.
This observance is held at all prison locations.
The minister also noted a number of developments in the service this year: the Sentence Management Board which works with stakeholders to implement interventions to rehabilitate inmates so that they can be returned to society to lead productive lives and the Guyana Prison Service Agriculture Develop-ment Board which aims to make prison locations self sufficient in terms of meeting the dietary requirements for inmates.
This programme is expected to drastically reduce the costs to incarcerate and rehabilitate inmates.
A Recruitment Board has also been appointed. The board which includes civilian members supports the prison system by reviewing applications for employment in the Guyana Prison Service. It aims to ensure that job specifications for the positions for enlistment are met and is tasked with interviewing applicants, making recommendations and overseeing other issues dealing with employment in the Prison Service. This initiative is expected to increase the performance of prisons countrywide and boost its efficiency and effectiveness.
The ministry has also taken steps to develop a new Strategic Plan 2011-2015 to ensure that the prison service is modernised and transformed to meet the evolving challenges. In addition, a training facility for prison officers has been established at the Lusignan Prison Complex to boost the professional competencies of staff and equip them with the skills needed for their diverse roles.
The ministry has also worked to improve the accommodation and general facilities for officers and inmates. This year an Officers’ Quarters at Kingston was built with the hope that improved conditions of service will be translated into greater staff motivation, consequently improving outputs. A new capital dormitory was also built which is expected to significantly improve living conditions for inmates at the Camp Street jail.
Several other initiatives have also been instituted to improve the prison system. Young first time offenders are separated from seasoned offenders, literacy, numeracy, vocational skills and behavioural change programmes are taught and specialist and custodial staff have been recruit to boost ranks professionalism through training.
In closing Rohee reiterated his admiration of the officers and expressed hope that his ministry and the prison administration will be able to address challenges in the system in order to fulfil its mandate.