Fresh prison unrest
…after attempting to kill “informant”
Calm has again been restored at the Lusignan Prisons when, on Saturday morning, several inmates surrendered improvised weapons to prison officers.
A tense and volatile atmosphere had descended on that penitentiary on Friday evening at about 20.30 hrs after 18 prisoners had injured themselves in trying to penetrate the razor wire barrier separating Holding Area One from Holding Area Two, reportedly in an attempt to kill an inmate they accuse of being an informant.
Prison officials have confirmed that 18 prisoners had indeed received razor wire cuts, and some had sustained other injuries, when they tried to scale a fence to access Holding Area Two. The prisoners had allegedly said they wanted to kill the fellow inmate.
It has also been disclosed that four prisoners had received treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital for the injuries they had sustained, and that one had been nursing a stab wound. The alleged informant was reportedly ushered to protective custody.
This latest prison disturbance follows repeated instances of unrest that have occurred ever since the July 9, 2017 Camp Street Prison riot and fire which left Prison Officer Odinga Wickham dead.
The Lusignan inmates involved in Friday’s unrest have offered prison authorities a proverbial olive branch, and have apologised to prison officers on Saturday morning as they surrendered 33 improvised weapons.
Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, on Saturday indicated that those prisoners thanked officers for not directing shots at them in a departure from a July 29 incident wherein 16 prisoners had been shot in a riot at Lusignan. That riot was sparked by four inmates brawling among themselves and receiving injuries in the process.
Reportedly, a group of inmates had started to behave disorderly among themselves, and this had escalated into a melee. The prisoners were repeatedly warned by officers, but they had refused to adhere to orders, and had hurled bricks at prison officers who were on duty, as a result of which prison officers were forced to retaliate by opening fire on them.
During that ordeal, three of the injured 16 prisoners were examined by doctors at the Georgetown Public Hospital, while the remaining 13 were treated at the penitentiary for minor injuries they had sustained.
Inmates have been increasingly agitated and angry with the recent prison raids, wherein significant sets of contraband items have been confiscated. A Wednesday morning raid at the Camp Street Prisons has unearthed a quantity of cannabis, three cell phones along with SIM cards, four lighters, 20 improvised weapons and three razor blades.
Three major raids conducted at the Lusignan, Timehri and New Amsterdam prisons on August 3 have netted more than 40 improvised weapons, 20 cellphones, 3 tattoo machines, 28 packs of cigarettes, 33 lighters and various quantities of illegal drugs. In fact, the Lusignan Prison raid alone accounted for more than 20 improvised weapons, nine lighters, nine mobile phones, two spoons, and an earphone, among other prohibited items.
In 2016, Samuels, then Deputy Director of Prisons, had categorised contraband as a “multi-million-dollar business” from within the prison system.