Prison CoI report should be implemented to mend protractedly broken prison system

Dear Editor,
I have been vindicated. Yes, Editor, I have been vindicated! I have been following the revelations of the findings of the Prison Commission of Inquiry (COI). After months of testimonies, millions of dollars spent, and all the hoopla, the inquiry revels what I have been saying, consistently and for free, for the last seven years.
More than 75% on the inmates are repeat offenders.
Most of the inmates are academically and vocationally challenged.
Upwards of 70% are youths.
The inmates need a formal and sustained rehabilitation programme.
The released ex-offenders need to be formally place in a post-release rehabilitation programme.
The inmates need to be psychologically evaluated to ascertain their mental health.
The results of the CoI have me feeling cheated. I should have charged the government for all my years of suggestions and free advice. I am not surprised, though, that the CoI agrees with my voluminous writings on these matters over the years. After all, I am the professional here.
Long before many of those who are now making the rules that govern prisoners were in their positions, I have been doing prison chaplaincy and criminology. I have been in the trenches of prisoner rehabilitation internationally, for over 20 years. I have studied it, I have practiced it and I have been writing on it.
In fact, if the CoI had come up with any other results, I would have been very embarrassed. Indeed my critics would have had ammunition to use against me. Several of them are constantly trying to belittle my knowledge in this area.
There is not a single person in Guyana who has been as consistent on the matter of prisoner rehabilitation as I have. Through this access you afford me, I have parsed, dissected and reassembled the benefits of a post-release prisoner rehabilitation programme in Guyana. And I have never been wrong.
I took pains to show that for all the complaining of the growing crime situation, no government officer has ever seen fit to put in place an ex-offender rehabilitation programme. Guyana has never had such a programme and maybe the fear of the unknown is causing some to be reluctant.
Editor, I would even venture as far to say that if the successive governments had listened to me, there would never had been a prison riot that resulted in the deaths of those 17 prisoners.
For years I have been suggesting that the government needs to set up Guyana’s first Ex-Offender Rehabilitation Programme. The logic is simple. According to the just released CoI, more that 80% of all our inmates have been to prison before. If you create a programme that seeks directly to reduce the recidivism rate (the recurrence of incarceration), you will precipitously reduce the prison population.
There are 2500 inmates locked up in Guyana’s prisons, five prisons at any one time. 80% of that amount means that some 2000 are repeat offenders. A formal rehabilitation programme, designed to deal with their criminogenic needs – vocational training, housing, education, substance abuse, and spiritual formation, will aid in keeping them out of prison, thereby reducing that percentage.
The programme should be designed to transition along a continuum of a pre-release, directly into a post-release construct. This is a best practice that I have helped to develop in the USA and it can work here in Guyana. At least, it should be tried.
A project document with a sustainability plan for a post-release aspect of the programme has been crafted and submitted. The training material for the pre-release programme is already documented for immediate rollout. The CoI has done its work. Thanks and congratulations go out to Justice Patterson and his professional team.
Now let’s get on with implementing the requirements of the report and mending this protractedly broken prison system in Guyana. Can we do it? Yes, we can.

Yours faithfully,
Wendell Jeffrey