Government needs a rehabilitation programme for those wishing to move away from a life of crime

Dear Editor,


The police force desperately needs informants who can supply the police with information on planned robberies and the whereabouts of known criminals. They need reformed/rehabilitated ex-offenders to help them with identifying individuals who are actively involved in criminal activities. However, this information has to be used judiciously so that maximum benefit could be derived.

It is a known fact in any society, that the police alone cannot reduce crime. The residents in the problematic neighbourhoods, the rehabilitated ex-offenders and the police need to work in alliance. Therefore, the police need to be seen as a ‘friend’ to the community. The mother, neighbour, or friend needs to know that when they ‘snitch’ on a criminal, he will not be killed or physically abused. After all, he is still a son, a neighbour, or friend; he still belongs to the community.

This concept works in many of the troubled neighbourhoods in developed countries, where the police are seen as integral to the betterment of the community. In Guyana this is very achievable, especially now that the new government seems sympathetic to the plight of those living in marginalized communities.

The law enforcers need to step out of their pick-up trucks and cars and walk the streets. They need to play with the children, rap with the youths, and befriend the adults. The police need be seen as ‘human.’

Additionally, the government needs to establish a programme that will provide a rehabilitative rationale to those needing to change. Many of the guys involved in some of these heinous and unconscionable crimes are in need of mentors and role models. These young men, many of whom are Black, need purpose and focus in their lives.

It means, therefore, that we as a society have to formally provide what psychologists term ‘incentives for change.’ The young man needs to know that there are alternatives to his plight. He needs to know that even though he lacks education, or job skills, or social status, there is room for him in his country.

What has been the one sided, biased and politically correct approach in Guyana for many years is the notion that what is needed is a larger, more equipped police force, even outfitted with a death squad. It is believed that such a robust force will deter crime. Over the past 10 years the Guyana Police Force has received more guns, batons, bikes and pick-up trucks. They have received more recruits − some have been trained in Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) − and the force has even received a water cannon. The citizens will judge if any of those approaches has worked to reduce crime.

However, what was noticeably absent over that same period, was funding for rehabilitation programmes for those who wanted to move away from a life of criminal behaviour. Ask any formerly incarcerated criminal and he will tell you that life gets harder for him when he is released from prison. So that even if the desire is there for a change in behaviour, if the incentives are absent, the potential to reoffend is starker.

Editor, I am very hopeful about the potential realities in Guyana because our problem is not as unmanageable as it might appear. What we have going for us is that fact that our crime and criminals are localized. We already know our troubled neighbourhoods and the breeding grounds for such behaviours. So when the government institutes a formal rehabilitative programme – which appeals to the reform-minded criminals – it will flush-out the ‘career criminals.’

The ex-offenders who will become part of this ex-offender rehabilitation process will also give up their criminality and deviancy. Inevitably, they will not only become examples and role models, but they will assist by supplying the police with information on planned robberies and the whereabouts of known ‘career criminals.’


Yours faithfully,

Pastor Wendell Jeffrey

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