The Camp St jail-break

Interviews and Pictures by Jonelle Fields and David Papannah

This week, we asked the man and woman in the street their views on the jail-break and the fire which occurred last week Sunday at the Camp Street Prison.

Stephon Gabriel

‘As it pertains to the current prison situation in my country, I believe that since the last incident in 2016 there should’ve been extra efforts by the government to stop such a casualty from happening again. I think that the relocation should’ve been of high priority. When it comes to the matter of public safety I can say that as a person living in the proximity of the prison I do feel safe and the work of the Police Force has been a commendable one, however I am aware of the missing prisoners and I believe that they should’ve been found by now since it has been five days since their escape. Some recommendations would be to improve the security measures, allow persons that have committed petty non-violent crimes to be heard at an acceptable time to decrease the number of persons in the prison, clad the prisoners in hot orange so that they would be easily distinguishable, employ more males in this maximum security male prison.’

Oswald Marcus

‘I am petrified that prisoners have escaped from the Camp Street Prison because we get some news that the prisoners gone come up Berbice side so I want the police to do their best and catch them. A lot of people are scared like me so seriously we need these prisoners to be caught so we can live in peace. I think that more must be done to ensure that something similar to the recent Camp Street fire does not occur ever again at any other prison in the country.’

Quindell Williams

‘I applaud the joint forces in their quick response to the Sunday afternoon burning of the Camp Street prison. Though underequipped, they managed to contain the fire from ravaging other buildings surrounding the site. I’m trusting that the armed forces will soon apprehend the escaped prisoners so that we as Guyanese can breathe a bit easier.’

Dereck DeNobrega

‘I believe that the recent Camp Street Prison fire and breakout was as a direct result of the prison being overcrowded. There should be no backlog in regards to court cases by having the trials taking up less time which will reduce the overcrowding issue. They shouldn’t have people who are on remand for long, long waiting for their cases be called, they should deal with them and done. Right now, I am fearful to know that there are dangerous prisoners running lose in the country. People’s lives are at risk because you can’t be in your house peacefully. And another thing this prison break might give the petty criminals confidence to commit worse crimes. They might now want come in your house and beat you and rob you more. I want to call on the authorities to beef up security countrywide, and for the criminals to be apprehended at the earliest.’

Jose Allen

‘Growing up I was always curious to know why would the Government house such persons within close proximity to normal civilians? Years have passed and knowledge was gained and I now have a clear understanding of why it was so based on our history. With that being so, I still feel that even as we have moved from being a non-independent country we should have made changes as time evolved, but it was not so even with the past circumstances. I would say that we still have not yet learned from our past experience hence we are in the same situation again. Now, I know the circumstances surrounding the building of a new prison out of the Capital City which goes back to funding etc but it has to be a thing that we should be strongly considering knowing the present and future danger to our people.’

Denica Henry

`The unfortunate events of Sunday 9th July will forever be embedded in my memory. The live broadcasts were indescribably frightening. The lives that have been affected are immeasurable. Whilst the disaster could have been averted if action was taken long ago, I am still thankful for the many lives that have been saved. The joint services did their best in a very tumultuous situation and I commend them for that. Psychologically speaking, many are living in fear at this present time and my main wish is that the escapees be recaptured ASAP and our prison facilities be adequately strengthened so that never again must Guyana face such a horrendous dilemma.’

Michael Sam

‘Well there are so many conflicting reports. Knowing that six wanted men are on the loose I am afraid and terrified. I had rehearsals that night of the fire, and it had to be cancelled immediately. It was very difficult to get home in the midst of all the chaos. Taxi drivers were not even walking so a group of us had to walk to the park, but knowing those people are out there it kind of gives us a fright. I think the police are doing the best they can do in terms of catching the prison escapees. However, more could be done if we had the proper resources.  When it comes to the prisoners being moved to Lusignan, I don’t see it as a problem just once there is an adequate amount of police who are watching them to make sure that they remain confined and isolated. With the government releasing information to the public, I think it is necessary because we the people need to know what is going on, or otherwise persons are going to start assuming things which could ultimately lead to panic and chaos.’

Collis De Abreu

‘I think that the Government should build a new prison somewhere else and it should be better staffed. There are a lot of spaces they can use like up the East Bank and other places. It has to be somewhere secluded and it must be able to house the number of prisoners. I am not afraid, knowing that wanted men are on the loose because they would not just do people things, they are the ones who are actually scared right now. I believe that they are scared, because they are scared for their lives.  The thing with the prisoners who burn down the prison, I believe they went too good. I would not burn down a place to be sent to a pasture, because I am not sure where they are going to put me and what they are going to do with me at the end of the day. One more thing, I don’t believe that the government is forthcoming with the information that they are releasing to the public. I think they are holding back information from us and in some cases, it is creating tension, but for others they seem to be going on with their lives despite what is happening.’

Joshua Liverpool

‘I think in the first place they should not have had a prison in the centre of Georgetown. A lot of persons dwell around that area and it’s not good for civilians to live so close to a prison. The incident that happened last week Sunday put a lot of people in danger and I think it should be moved far way to a secluded area and with maximum security.

Right now, I am afraid of the escapees who are on the lose because these men are prisoners and they are capable of doing anything right about now, so of course I am terrified. But I must say hats off to the police who are doing everything in their power to find these men.

Some persons are saying that the police are not doing all they can to find these men but I think if they are not doing their best, they wouldn’t have been out there in the streets trying to find the prisoners. ‘

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