The caretaker Administration has moved to release over 50 prisoners from three penitentiaries across the country in an effort to create space amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Guyana Times understands that these persons were released a few weeks ago from the Camp Street Prison in Georgetown, Mazaruni Prison in Bartica and Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara.
From the list of offenders released, a majority were jailed for possession of narcotics, assault and larceny while others were found guilty of more serious offences.
The decision was taken by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan with assistance from Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels. Those persons released would
have served one-third of their sentences.
Last June, Samuels had revealed that the prison population stood at 2069 inmates, while reiterating that there continues to be overcrowding at the various penitentiaries.
Just last month, the Director of Prisons said a request was made to the Public Health Ministry to establish the facility to house some 250 prisoners. However, at that time, they were still awaiting a response from the Ministry.
Samuels had told Guyana Times that the facility would help to combat the spread of the virus if there is to be an outbreak in any of the five prisons across the country.
Asked about social distancing being practiced among inmates within the prison system, he pointed out that this is posing as a great challenge since the prison is currently overpopulated.
“We have been practicing many activities of the guidelines that were given as possible, but in an overcrowded prison, social distancing is something you can’t strictly adhere to. But wherever possible, it is being practised,” he was quoted as saying.
The COVID-19 emergency measures enforced by the Public Health Ministry on April 3 to curb the spread of the deadly virus states that “No person shall visit or be permitted to visit… a prison or correctional facility…”