Prisoners cautioned against acting “foolishly” – Ramjattan

Approximately 400 inmates from the Camp Street Prison were separated from the “real bad ones” and transferred to the Mazaruni and Timehri Prisons some two weeks ago. And though there has since been no incident or disturbance at either prisons, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is cautioning all prisoners against being emboldened to act stupidly.

Ramjattan said there are old buildings at those holding facilities, and both the

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan

Public Security Ministry and the security forces are proverbially keeping their fingers crossed that the situation remains as calm as it has been. Since the fiery destruction of the Camp Street Prison, word has emerged that the old prison at Mazaruni would be rebuilt, but Ramjattan has posited that this would not be easy.

He told media operatives on Friday: “(The) long-term solution (to the current situation) would be making back the old prison that we are talking about at Mazaruni, but we are also hoping that we are going to get an increase in people coming out of jail because they would’ve served their sentences, and also some rehabilitation at the Camp Street; but those things might be difficult, it might have to be a long-term situation in that tarmacked area.”

Ramjattan said that even though “we have difficulties making buildings quickly”, word was given by engineers who stated that they are capable of erecting prisons within a couple of months. He also noted that the security forces have presently been working overtime. Updating the public on the transfer of 86 prisoners from the Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD) pasture area, Ramjattan disclosed that the prisoners have calmed down.

“We are hoping for success. The situation in the prison itself has calmed down. We have done a number of things which have comforted them, especially (allowing) the self-support that they used to get and so on from their relatives and friends; (those thing) have helped the situation. They also know that there are a lot more people around the perimeters, so I don’t think that they will try anything foolish,” Ramjattan opined.

Pandemonium broke out at the Camp Street Prison on July 9 when prisoners set that facility on fire, occasioning its complete destruction except for a newly built brick building which is still standing intact. In the ensuing confusion, a number of prisoners managed to escape from lawful custody, including convicted murderers Mark Royden Durant, also called Royden Williams; Uree Varswyck, Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander and Cobena Stephens — all deemed armed and dangerous. That incident resulted in the death of Prison Officer Odinga Wickham, who lost his life after he was shot by prisoners during the breakout.