Youth prisoners pardoned by President released from jail

All of the youth prisoners who were granted presidential pardons by President David Granger have been released from prison, according to Prison Director Welton Trotz who said yesterday that they have since been accepted into the USAID’s Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) Project.

Stabroek News has been unable to ascertain the exact number of persons released. Trotz said that the number has been further reduced and was in the vicinity of 40. His efforts to get the number from a prison official were futile but he said that one female, not two as he had previously indicated was included in the number.

“All were released on Friday (last), all who were qualified to be released”, he said.

Giving an update he said that all the inmates who were housed at the various prisons across the country were released last Friday. That date was the deadline, Trotz had said in a previous interview.

The government has not announced the names of those pardoned.

Trotz said that initially 60 youth prisoners had been identified but it was later discovered that some did not meet the specified 15-25 age range while some of the offences they were convicted of were serious. Granger had said that only those convicted of non-violent offences would be considered for presidential pardons.

Stabroek News later learnt that some of those identified were convicted of break and enter, an offence which is classified as serious, robbery and rape.

Asked what has become of the now pardoned prisoners, Trotz said last Friday before being released they were each interviewed individually by SKYE representatives and “they have been identified for certain training programmes which are being done regionally”. He explained that wherever the pardoned prisoners live there are SKYE facilitators there to conduct the required training.

He later said that the training commenced in Region Two on Monday but he could not give an update with respect to the other regions. He said though that all of the training programmes should begin by tomorrow.

USAID had made a proposal to Attorney General Basil Williams by way of a letter to have those pardoned enrolled in the SKYE Project. Williams during an interview with Stabroek News about two weeks ago did not indicate whether the proposal was being considered.

Granger had spoken too about a young prisoner rehabilitation scheme which those to be pardoned would be sent to. However Stabroek News has been unable to obtain details about this project.

The pardons were first mentioned by Granger on May 25.

Presidential pardons will be issued on an annual basis.

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