Prison officers “essential but undervalued” – Gouveia

Chairman of the Guyana Prison Service’s Sentence Management Board, Captain Gerald Gouveia related that too often the heroism and dignity of hundreds of the country’s prison officers are overlooked.

Chairman of the Guyana Prison Service’s Sentence Management Board, Captain Gerald Gouveia

These were his sentiments while addressing the Senior Officers’ Conference held on January 28, 2022, at the Guyana Police Force Training Centre Auditorium.
“As a key worker, you’ll work with a range of people and perform a variety of tasks – from keeping the prison safe and secure, to helping vulnerable people through a very difficult time in their lives. It’s hard work and its significance is undermined by negative outlooks”, Gouveia who is also Security Advisor to President Dr Irfaan Ali stated.
“The prisons system always seems to be the ugly cousins of the Joint Services and we need to fix that. We need to fix that in the way prison officers are seen and the way prison officers are compensated for the risks they face and good work they do.”
Further, Gouveia believes that prison officers are not given enough credit and appreciation for the work they do in keeping Guyana safe.
“The prison system is a very important component of our Joint Services because it’s a place where we rehabilitate people who have gone down the wrong line and the task you (prison officers) are given is a very complex task. So, the work that you (prison officers) do is very important in ensuring that our society and communities are safe, especially after people have left the prisons. So, rehabilitation in the prisons is vital, and that is where you play a pivotal role.”
He further recalled his experience on the GPS’s Sentence Management Board in the early 2000s when prisoners were referred to as the nation’s “scavengers” by some local folks.
He reflected on his experience with the aim of improving conditions for staff and reframing the image of prisoners so that policymakers can begin to embrace the true reason for incarceration.
The Chairman noted the evident growth through massive strides that have been made in improving the conditions under which staff work and inmates are kept.