Desmond Gladstone: `To strengthen the prison system I think they need to take examples from overseas. They have maximum security prisons there and that should be taken into consideration. We don’t need a prison that people can kick down the walls and walk through. They should also have a screening process for the wardens because I feel that whatever goes into the prison is through them; I might be wrong. They should also pay them well, if that is done it would discourage them from committing acts to collect bribes.’

Chawntelle David (Private Sector)

Chawntelle David (Private Sector): `I think that persons that they find smuggling weapons, cigarettes, lighters, etc, into the prison, they should fire them because there’s a lot of inside work going on there. A lot of persons take bribes and when they are found they should be made examples so that others will think twice before doing the same. Some people try to put it down to the salaries not being enough but I don’t even think a raise of salary will help the situation because the more money you get it’s the more you’ll want because your responsibilities automatically increase as you start adding things into your budget. So you’ll always want a side hustle.’

Sarah DosRamos (Student)

Sarah DosRamos (Student): `I believe that the prison system is flawed and hopefully more money will be spent to improve and advance it. Also, I believe that the police, prison officers, etc, aren’t the only persons to be blamed. Prisoners should be held accountable for their behaviour.’

Sasha Cox (Student):

Sasha Cox (Student): `The prison system needs a whole remodelling. Aside from the fact that a new prison facility needs to be constructed out of the capital city, the prisoners need to realise and understand that they are in prison on punishment, not on vacation. They can’t be making ridiculous demands just for their comfort and satisfaction. Also, more prison officers need to be employed. The ratio of prisoners to officers is ridiculous and unsafe. Also, these officers are extremely young and don’t get the respect they deserve from the prisoners. ‘

Charles Vandyke

Charles Vandyke (Private Sector): `I believe that we have to start from the judicial system in the sentencing for minor offences and we need to perhaps try to reduce the number of persons being sent to prison. They must reduce the number of prisoners for minor offences that they are putting in jail. A lot of those people can be fined or be given other things to do other than being put into prison. The other thing is that juvenile prisoners definitely need to be separated. Those young men, first offenders who are mixed up with the hardened criminals, they need to address that. Put them in a separate place. You can’t have all of them lumped up in Camp Street or Lusignan. We need to attend to that immediately. The other thing is we need to fast track the expansion of the Mazaruni prison to reduce the number of prisoners that we have in Georgetown. Do not rebuild Georgetown for that number of prisoners, send them to Mazaruni or elsewhere. Of course they need to have some place to hold prisoners who need to attend court, but other than that, once they are sentenced and their case is finished, you send them out. Another thing is that most people did not realise before that the buildings that they have there are wooden buildings that have been there for a long time and so one would think that we would have gotten rid of those buildings.’

Noah Rajak (Student)

Noah Rajak (Student):` Government should take into account all that was recommended in the first COI and then discuss what would be done with this second COI. Afterwards, let them have safety plans for the future as it regards to potential prison breaches as was displayed numerous times before, for both prisoners and the people alike, not just a last minute safety plan.’

Marcia Sajar

Marcia Sajar: `What I think needs to be done to help improve the prison system in Guyana is for the hardcore criminals to be separated from the minor offenders. Those should be held under very strict security and limited in the activities that they’re allowed. The remand prisoners shouldn’t be treated the same as those convicted. They need to be very strict with their supervision because the prisoners are getting phones and they’re getting weapons and so on. They need to monitor them more closely. Although once you’re nice to the prison wardens they’re lenient with you. Once you’re not making trouble and you’re a good prisoner, you follow the rules, you get good treatment.’

Mark McCalmon (Vendor)

Mark McCalmon (Vendor): `I think if people were not so lazy we wouldn’t have gotten so many persons in jail for petty crimes but that is how it is. And now we have to look at how to strengthen the prison system and it needs to start from the inside with the wardens. The authorities have to be strict with them and clamp down on them by building their capacity to resist the bribes. But some people’s minds lead them and they smuggle in the contraband items for a high price because they don’t want to wait till the end of the month to be paid. But if they are going to be strict and strengthen the human security they need to get rid of persons from the time they are caught and this would send a message to the other wardens to desist. Also, they need to look at electronic systems of closing cells and stronger infrastructure so the prisoners won’t break it down or burn it down. They should have cameras in secret parts of the prison in every angle monitoring the movements of all those in the building.’

Ryan Layne (Public Sector)

Ryan Layne (Public Sector): `I think there needs to be more rigid security systems in place. On the prisoners’ part, I believe that for some minor offences the sentences should be commuted, that prisoners should not be locked up for bailable offences and as for the offences that are non-bailable, they should try to facilitate a speedy trial, as I believe that that’s how the situation of overcrowding comes about. I don’t believe that Camp Street is a suitable location for a maximum security penitentiary because it’s in the middle of a city and just in case there’s a prison break, there might be hard-core inmates who can wreak havoc in these areas because of its proximity to where people live.’

Osei Mckenzie (Private Sector)

Osei Mckenzie (Private Sector): `I really think Guyana has a lot of islands at our disposal and we should really take full advantage of that and we should move the maximum security prison to one of these remote locations where escape is less likely. That way the citizens of the country are safer and so are the prisoners. The prison could also have other facilities such as for psychiatric evaluation.’

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