…anger management training aims at reducing prisoner violence
As the Guyana Prison Service continues to combat the smuggling of contraband in the penitentiaries, it reported the presence of these items has caused much uproar among prisoners, resulting in physical altercations.
Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels made this disclosure on Wednesday, during a graduation exercise for inmates who have successfully completed an anger management training exercise.
He noted that prisoners would seek assistance from their family members to deliver prepaid credit to cellphones. If they do not receive the benefits, this causes fights and other violent activities.
“There is the issue of demand for contraband. There have been instances whereby persons who are in possession of illegal cellphones – a major problem which we have been facing for a number of years. Their families are caused to top-up those phones with credit and then when someone does not receive the required benefits for the credit their families would have placed in those phones, those situations too would result in fights,” said Samuels.
In March, an early-morning raid at the New Amsterdam Prison by members of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service unearthed several contraband items.
The items found include three cellphones, a Rambo knife, a shaving set, three improvised weapons, 11 phone chargers, four metal spoons, a quantity of wire, two nail clips, a pair of scissors, 25 cigarette lighters, two memory cards, one adapter, 13 construction nails, 27 razor blades and one gram of cannabis.
The Director of Prisons admitted on many occasions, prisoners are involved in altercations just before their stint is completed.
For this, they are again sentenced. He reiterated that in the past, attacks would result in some persons being hospitalised for days. Wardens and other officers are sometimes subjected to these threats.
The 12-week training provided tools to cope with behavioural issues which can be used as life lessons.
Samuels stressed, “The Guyana Prison Service has placed much focus on the need for such training programmes. While some of those persons who are graduating will not be immediately reintegrated back into society, you will understand that this training will also serve to help those inmates to better cope with their period of imprisonment.”
Officer-In-Charge at the Prison, Nicklon Elliot noted that because of such training initiatives, there has been a reduction in violent crimes in the lockups. While contraband is one of the causes of such altercations, it is not the only reason.
“There would have been a reduction in prisoner violence at the location, and those persons who are part of the programme would have become mentors for the others at the location. The location is one that is dynamic in terms of its condition and that by itself would cause a lot of conflict among prisoners,” Elliot stated.
While they are seeking to implement this programme on a larger scale, the availability of space is a constraint. Ever since the 2017 fire which destroyed a major section of the lockups, the remaining space was utilised for other purposes.
“This training is all about bringing about behavioural change, which is something that is not only needed for prisoners, but something that is needed for many members of society,” he said.
Last September, 32 inmates from the New Amsterdam Prison were recipients of certificates after completing a similar workshop by the Solutions Training Consultancy and Counselling Services (STCCS).