Over 350 prisoners granted early release amid COVID-19

Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels has announced that over 350 prisoners were freed due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other reasons which satisfied grounds for their early release.

Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels

Speaking during a recent media engagement, he noted that the prison population saw an overall decline of over 200 persons, since there is constant admission of new convicts.
“The prison population would have seen a decline of some 200-plus prisoners. As it relates to persons who were actually released, this number will be much bigger but we’re also dealing with the daily admission of new prisoners from the courts,” Samuels said.
While some were released in direct relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, others were granted remission, or reduced bail. As such, this saw some 350 convicted felons leaving the penitentiary.
“As it relates to persons that were granted release as it relates specially to COVID, as it relates to persons who were granted remission, persons who were granted reduction in bail and they were able to post bail; persons who have been placed on self-bail; it would amount somewhere in the vicinity to 350 or even more,” he explained.
In light of the deadly epidemic, he said new prisoners are subjected to two weeks in quarantine before being placed with the other inmates. They are also examined by medical practitioners for signs and symptoms associated with the virus.
The Prison Director notified, “The problem is that as persons go out, persons are coming in…We do new admissions at two prisons. That would be New Amsterdam and Lusignan. All persons who are admitted to the prison are subjected to 14 days quarantine. During that period, they are examined by the prison medical staff and when they’re cleared, then they are placed in the general population.”
After the Lusignan Prison was set alight and destroyed on Sunday, inmates were moved by law enforcement ranks to a holding bay within the facility. Caretaker Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said he is hoping that no contractions occurred between these persons and the prisoners during that exercise.
Earlier in March, the caretaker administration had moved to release over 50 prisoners from three penitentiaries across the country in an effort to create space amid the coronavirus pandemic.
These persons were released 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.
Those persons would have served one-third of their sentences. (G12)