Guyana does not have a crime problem; we have leadership, academic, parental problems which lead to crime

Dear Editor,

This is where criminologists come in handy. A couple of weeks ago the nation was pondering the anomaly of one educated young man, with a reasonably good job, taking up arms to rob a bank. It baffled many as to the causative factor and/or the modus operandi behind such thinking. Why would an educated man, who can easily get into white collar crime, descend into a realm that is probably out of his element?

Well, the answer is simple. Desperation! The climate for white collar crimes changed drastically when the administration changed. Many of the avenues for a ‘lil hustle’, that took place before 2015, were closed when the Granger administration came into power and began tightening the screws. Banks have now instituted a host of hoops that you have to jump through just to obtain or deposit your own money.

No doubt this ‘mash-up’ many other bank ‘runnings.’ Additionally, the plethora of audit reports caused many to virtually cease all (or most) illegal activities, even in ministries and companies that were not subject to any audits.

This new environment is causing many people to be very fearful of continuing in their old ways of consistently engaging in activities that were illegally supplementing their income. So now the white collar type of crime has been significantly reduced. With this explanation as the backdrop, one must now understand that folks like the bank robber, who might have been involved in such crimes, or who thought that his education might have provided an avenue for them to get involved in those white collar kinds of crimes, have now found themselves in a tight spot.

Their desires for ‘big-money’ are the same. Their need for extravagance has not been curtailed. But now, the established avenues for them to thrive have been reduced. So they default to blue collar crimes. These kinds of crimes are more risky; they are crasser, and they carry more jail time. However, in desperation, one is likely to try anything. The bank robber crossed over into a realm that was unfamiliar to him and botched the job. The rest is history.

Now, let’s look at a different scenario. Four of the prison escapees abducted a young man. These escapees are convicted murderers.

Again the Guyanese public defaulted to the presumption that the young man would be killed. In the minds of most of us, he was a ‘goner’. However, Mr Shivtahal is safely home with his wife and son. The convicted murderers did not kill him. (They might have promised to kill him, if he said what they told him not to say, but that is a different story for a different time.)

Again, we have to go into the minds of those four escapees. What would make them not kill Mr Shivtahal? Some say that it because he begged for his life and because he has a young son. Well, is it not true that at least one of the men was convicted for killing women and children?

If the men did kill those people, some of them must have begged to have their lives spared. So, begging for your life and claiming to have children are not sufficient reasons for convicted killers not to kill you.

The point I am trying to make is that we in Guyana are shooting in the dark. We do not quite know what is driving our so-called criminals (the blue collar ones, especially). For 7 years I have been speaking on this topic and I have been suggesting that the authorities create a semiformal process that will subject every arrested suspect to an interview.

Not an interrogation, akin to what the investigators have to do, but an interview, conducted by a person, or persons, who have the ability to win the confidence of the detainee. The interview should be designed to unearth modalities of behavioural defective consciences, emotional immaturity, inadequate childhood socializations, maternal deprivation, and/or poor moral development.

Guyana does not have a crime problem. We have leadership, parental and academic problems which lead to crime. More than 60% of our criminals are repeat offenders and more than a ¼ of those locked up are on remand. For 7 years I have been speaking on this issue and I honestly believe that if the successive governments had listened to me, those 18 guys would not have died last year and we would not have lost our prison and be internationally humiliated, this year. Editor, I will continue to address this issue until Guyana’s criminal justice system makes the necessary and timely changes.

Yours faithfully,

Wendell Jeffrey

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