The country’s Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan Wednesday afternoon suggested he was stumped in addressing security at the prisons, following the escape of three prisoners from Lusignan and another riot at the same facility.
“It is an extraordinarily difficult circumstance.
“I don’t have any other suggestions that could better that for their security – for the citizens’ security – as to what we can do there,” Ramjattan stated at a press conference at the headquarters of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Party he chairs.
“I am scared because all [the prisons] are wooden structures. …wicked people can do something and you have another conflagration,” Ramjattan declared.
“So look, the thing gives me headache every night,” he added, emphasising that he doesn’t know what else to do, unless, he said, if someone comes up with an idea to put the prisoners in a vessel and place them in the ocean.
But then, he quickly added, there wouldn’t be money for that.
He admitted the facilities at the Lusignan Holding Bay are not the best, but said the authorities were trying their best.
Hundreds of prisoners were transferred to the Lusignan Prison after an unrest sparked a fire that destroyed the main prison at Camp Street in Georgetown in July 2017. They were placed in three holding bays in the prison compound at Lusignan.
“It is a half-scald situation. But in my circumstances, I don’t know what better I can do,” he stated.
Ramjattan said that the new facilities at the Mazaruni Prison will accommodate 300 prisons and works at the Camp Street site will hold another 100 prisoners in “beautiful” steel cells.
At Lusignan, Ramjattan said the authorities will “try to do better” in providing an improved quality of water “because they are saying all manner of things about the water.”
He said that prisoners in the holding bay have also been provided with palettes to rest their mattresses, but they have now burnt half of the palettes and mattresses provided.
The Minister said the prisoners also destroyed the walls which separate the holding bays.
He said since international funding is not available to build prisons, the government is forced to improve these facilities using public funds, but he said there are other priorities, such as severance pay for sugar workers and increased salaries for teachers.
Ramjattan said if resources were to go to prisons instead of paying workers, others would start “cussing” and say he is going crazy again.