Guyana should look outside for examples of prison systems which work

Dear Editor,

Thus far what has been the primary goal of the Camp Street prison? Has it been to rehabilitate or incapacitate?   Have any of the goal(s) been met?  Prisons were initially constructed as a form of physical punishment, with penalties regarded as deterrents.  It is blatantly apparent that the current prison system in Guyana has not worked, serving instead as an irritant rather than a deterrent.

Well-run prisons are not conjured up, neither do they come into being through good laws or a good philosophy. While these are of vital importance, in the absence of competent, intelligent and inspiring prison leadership there is little to no chance of creating a constructive prison environment and operations.

To ensure that there is never a recurrence of the prison saga the Government of Guyana should  look outside of  Guyana  for models of prison systems that have not only worked but continue to do so.  We cannot afford to lean on our own understanding.  In February 2013 a group of American corrections officials, judges, prosecutors and public defenders spent a week visiting prisons in Germany and the Netherlands, where individuals are imprisoned at about one-tenth the rate of the United States, for far less time, and under conditions aimed at social reintegration rather than punishment alone

A report from the group suggested that European sentencing and penal practices may provide useful guidance in the increasing effort to reform an American prison system crumbling under its own weight. So, if America with the highest incarceration rate in the world, nearly five times that of Britain, seven times that of France and 24 times that of India, can look at effective prison systems, how much more so can Guyana? The country is now called upon to prove that it has learnt from its mistakes.

Yours faithfully,

Y Sam

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