Karl Deutsch observed many years ago that political science was myopic in its development of theories and knowledge about power. He complained that political scientists “described the laws and institutions of State much as anatomists describe the skeleton or organs of the body.” But the “nerves of Government,” “the channels of decision-making and communication” by which Government so often asserts its power, proved Deutsch incorrect. Governments not only act, but must also communicate their actions to the people.
This now brings me to the question: What really has President David Granger and his ministers done with respect to prison reform, since they promised the people on the campaign trail that they would “implement proposals for the reform and strengthening of the Prison Services, in line with the recommendations such as those made in the Report of the Disciplined Forces Commission, especially with regard to training and recruitment, increasing salaries, and conditions of service” (see Page 44 of the APNU/AFC Manifesto).
The answer to the question is: very little!
What has Team Granger done to at least accomplish some of the recommendations of the Patterson Commission of Inquiry (2016)? Again, the answer is: very little!
Justice James Patterson and his two commissioners, former Director of Prisons Dale Erskine (a top professional in the field), and human rights activist Merle Mendonca, recommended the “formation of a committee to focus on reducing the overcrowding in the prison system, where at least 60% of the population (in March 2016) were on remand.” Again, this was not done!
Actually, the situation got worse since the 2016 Prison Fire.
It is unfortunate that the policy makers, who were tasked with a slew of recommendations in Justice Patterson’s Report in regard to the events of 2016, did very little with those recommendations. I suspected that President Granger would appoint another Commission of Inquiry (CoI) in 2017, to pronounce on the current tragedy. So said so done; I am advised that there is now a new 2017 CoI into the Camp Street Prison fire.
This is nothing but an act of executive laziness from the Cabinet of Guyana. These acts of not making the big decisions to improve the welfare of the nation, by hiding behind the CoI process, are nothing but devious and deceitful on the part of Team Granger. They continue to outsource their functions to these CoIs, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars in the process, when the answers are right in front of them.
What I have observed over the last two years is a trend of Team Granger’s to use the CoI process to generate the excuses needed to camouflage its inability to do the job its members are really being paid to do.
In conclusion, why did it take the total destruction of the Camp Street Prison in 2017 for Minister Ramjattan to realize that he has the power to remove 463 hardened, high-risk convicts from the centre of the city to other prisons in remote locations, and to release into freedom 57 former prisoners?