Prison breaks are indicative of an ailing social system

Dear Editor,

In response to the July 9 and subsequent prison escapes, Guyana has not seen any evidence of social recuperation; instead new social anomalies emerge. The aforementioned prison break and escapes are indicative of an ailing social system. It was the urban sociologist Loïc Waquant who said that: “the contemporary prison can be likened to the ghetto in that, the penal climate of the past two decades, the stigma of penal conviction has been prolonged, diffused and reframed in ways that assimilate it to a ethno racial stigma attached ad aeternum to the body of its bearer”. Civil society, government and opposition have to reframe the existing social policies, in a way to facilitate social inclusion and legal-political changes.

In a neoliberal age, the system has been structured to oppress people of a particular ethnicity and class. The government needs to be more cognizant of dangerous factors that prompted such a prison break; not only overcrowding and lengthy remands are the causes, but also psychological and socioeconomic ones. This invariably leads to what is called ‘symbolic violence’; these African youths accept the way the system unjustly treats them as the norm, and their only reaction is rebellion. If the government continues to treat such social issues flippantly, we may see a recurrence.

We can no longer see Guyana sink further into the mire of absurdity. Our judicial system needs an urgent revamp. There are dimensions to the judicial system that the ordinary man would not like to know.

I am kindly asking that government review new social and legal policies which can engender equity.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Allicock

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