New holding area for Camp St prisoners to be handed over today

Ranks of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defense Force mounted on one of the four new watchtowers erected to at the new holding facility constructed to house inmates at the Lusignan prison.

Works on the Lusignan Prison to accommodate inmates from the gutted Camp Street jail are almost complete and the facility would be handed over to the Guyana Prison Service today, a statement from the Ministry of Public Security said last night.

Following the destruction of the Camp Street Prison by fire two Sundays ago, construction began on a semi-permanent facility to house inmates who were transferred to the Lusignan jail on the East Coast of Demerara as an emergency step.

The statement from the ministry said that the transfer of prisoners from the current open-air holding area to the newly constructed facility will commence today.

This announcement was made following a visit by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday afternoon.

Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson on Friday after a meeting with the Private Sector Commission had said works were scheduled to be completed on Saturday. However, the statement issued yesterday said that the completion of the works was delayed as a result of inclement weather.

The walls of the facility, Patterson said on Friday in an interview with Stabroek News, are 18 feet high and surrounded by barbed wire fencing which is mounted on an additional five feet.  He stressed that the walls of the new facility are solid cast, with a buffer zone between the fence and the facility to allow for a clear line of sight for prison guards. He added that they have also constructed watch towers which are equipped with adequate security lighting.

According to Patterson, they have created the new facility with partitions as requested by the prison service.  He emphasised that the facility will be a vast improvement over the current situation.

Currently, prisoners are complaining about the conditions they have to put up with. They are staying in a pasture that was swamped by heavy rain over the last few days. Shelter is offered by temporary tents that have been set up.

“The new holding area has been tarmacked and roofed and will temporarily house approximately 450 prisoners who were transferred from the Georgetown Prison …”  the statement explained yesterday, adding that works are continuing at the brick prison building at the Georgetown Prison and another area which was not destroyed by the fire. The two standing structures at the Camp Street facility, the Public Security statement said will house a total of 350 prisoners at the Georgetown Prison location, further reducing the numbers of prisoners who are being held at Lusignan.

At the Camp Street building, Patterson had explained that they have created space for the prison administration to function and are working to install plumbing facilities.

Patterson went on to say that his Ministry and other stakeholders have taken all the measures indicated by the prison service and it would be the disciplined forces who will have a final inspection before it is handed over.

“The safety of our citizen is paramount and of course the inmates’ well-being is paramount and whatever is put in place (will be) adequate and humane,” Patterson emphasised.

“To date, over 400 prisoners in total have been transferred to the New Amsterdam Prison, Mazaruni Prison and Timehri Prison,” the statement last night said.

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