Societal response to prison breaks under PPP & now
Should not the coalition Government be held accountable for the spate of prison breaks and riots? And where are the objective critics on the handling of the prison problem? They were very critical of the PPP, but have now relaxed their vigilance. There was one prison break (2001) under the previous Government, and it was lambasted left, right and centre for alleged incompetence. Even when there was use of force in 2012 in Linden, the PPP Administration was assailed for incompetence, for not preventing the violence.
And in regard to the 2001 prison break, we have learnt about the connection between those escapees, certain communities, certain political operatives, and drug lords and drug money. The escapees were termed ‘freedom fighters’ and were supported by many opposed to the government of the day, as the escaped prisoners created havoc by murdering scores of innocent Guyanese. The PPP Government was assailed, perhaps justifiably, for its handling of the entire episode. Fast forward to the present time, and in the two years of this current Government, there have been four prison breaks or riots thus far: Camp Street twice, Lusignan, and the Juvenile Centre in the Essequibo. In fact, there have been ongoing problems at Lusignan, with several breakouts occurring. No one has been held accountable for any riot or breakout. Under the previous regime, there was a call for heads to roll for the prison breakout. Now not only are the previous critics silent, but they see no fault on the part of the current Government, and are saying this spate of prison breaks should not be politicized. To their credit, the current opposition are on record as saying they will not support the escapees or seek political mileage from the situation, as their opponents did when the PPP were in power. The Government must accept responsibility for the breakouts and riots, and must stop blaming others. In addition, the Government must work with the Opposition and civil society to address prison issues.