In an effort to maximise security at the Mazaruni Prison, efforts will be made to clear a one-mile radius around the prison compound, according to Director of Prisons (ag) Gladwin Samuels.
“Mazaruni Prison is basically in the centre of a jungle and in order to improve security at the location, efforts will be made to clear a one-mile radius around the prison so as to increase visibility and more so since we are moving towards self-sufficiency in term of agriculture, it means that we will have a larger amount of persons deployed to agriculture on a daily basis”, Samuels told reporters on Monday during an interview at the Mazaruni Prison (Cuyuni/Mazaruni).
According to Samuels, though prisoners who are sent out of the compound are subject to the necessary screening, the administration still needs to ensure that it is proactive in terms of putting the necessary security measures in place to counter any plans persons might hatch while they are out labouring.
A total of $1.5B was allotted to the Guyana Prison Service during the 2018 National Budget to address the expansion and rehabilitation of the prison infrastructure. This includes the expansion of the Mazaruni Prison.
Samuels said the two key areas that focus will be placed on are the completion of the Mazaruni Prison and the construction at the Camp Street prison which will be used as a remand facility.
Emphasis is also being placed to ensure that the Mazaruni prison which is powered by a generator system is equipped with 24-hour electricity by the New Year.
The prison is currently only powered with 12 hours of electricity from 18.00 hrs to 6.00 hrs.
“We have progressed gradually over a number of years. There were times when light on the compound used to be only for two, four or six hours years ago. Now we have 12 hours from 18.00 hrs to 06.00 hrs”, he said.
However, in keeping with expansion and development of the Mazaruni prison, Samuels said it is recognized that 24-hour electricity is critical since training is done during the day and it is known that proper skills training cannot be done without the necessary power tools. “The fact that they were only having electricity for the hours of darkness, the opportunity to allow prisoners to meaningfully utilize those power tools for their training was not realized”, he added.
He furthered explained that with the installation of a brand new generator at the location and the re-wiring of the entire compound, 24-hour electricity will be available as soon as the installation is complete.
In terms of the construction at the Camp Street Prison, the director noted that a proposal was submitted to cabinet but no decision has been made as yet.
Samuels also stated that apart from the twelve “family quarters” that are near completion in the Mazaruni Prison compound to facilitate prison employees and their families, another eight will be added in 2018
“Most people express concerns as it relates to being transferred because they have to leave their home because they have to leave their families behind. So taking this into consideration, the need for additional and appropriate housing for persons who would have to leave the comfort of their homes has been considered and has resulted in the initial construction of twelve houses and another eight will be done in 2018”, he said.