In light of recent reports that government has engaged the judicial branch on reforms for sentencing policy, President Granger has observed that too many young offenders are incarcerated.
Speaking at the handing-over of the Camp Street Prison riot Commission of Inquiry report on Wednesday he said the Administration had discussions with the judiciary on sentencing policies to reduce the rising number of inmates.
He also stated that no President would be happy to see large numbers of young people spend so much of their lives incarcerated.
It was explained that some individuals start off at the Onderneeming facility, spend time at Camp Street Prison and end up at the Mazaruni Prison, which the Guyanese leader said was responsible for Government’s dialogue with the Judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Head of State opined that the main prisons in Guyana; the Camp Street, Mazaruni and New Amsterdam structures, being over a century old, were not designed to cater for the current huge prison population and suggested that the facilities at Lusignan and Timehri were built to assist the main prisons.
The President recalled his visit to the Mazaruni Prison earlier this year with Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Public Security Minister Kemraj Ramjattan where they sought to explore how the conditions of prison life could be improved.
“We looked at improving the production of food; providing facilities to encourage inmates to alter their behaviour so that they don’t have to return into that system,” Granger noted, explaining that his team looked into rehabilitation while on their visit.
The Head of State noted further that government will now direct its efforts towards ensuring the country becomes a safer place and expressed hope that fewer children, men and women will end up in the country’s prisons.
It was only last week that the President told the media that in efforts to reduce the overcrowding in the prisons, the government could review custodial sentencing for persons in possession of small amounts of marijuana. He however cautioned that while the matter came up for discussions, no decisions were taken.
The Social Protection Ministry earlier in the year had announced that alternative sentencing for young offenders could become mainstreamed, but it was cautioned that such offenders should not be “grave violators” of the nation’s Criminal Laws.
Calls were also made for consideration for reduce penalties against offenders between the ages 16 and 21.
The Social Protection Ministry’s Chief Probation and Social Services Officer Gavin Munroe told the media earlier this year that systems for alternative sentencing were being addressed but he had observed that an assessment by departmental officials would done and the requisite recommendations were also submitted