Reducing prison population: Legal Aid Clinic secures dismissal for 57 of 77 matters
Launched in January 2020 as part of the Support for the Criminal Justice System (SCJS) Programme, the legal aid clinic has dealt with approximately 122 matters by August 2021.
According to information released as part of a client satisfaction survey, by August 2021 some 77 of the 122 matters were completed with 45 pending. Of the 77, 57 were dismissed, nine were abandoned and there were 11 convictions.
The legal aid clinic deals with both walk-in clients and those referred from the prison, probation, and judicial services.
The general problem to be addressed by the Support for the Criminal Justice System (SCJS) Programme is the overcrowding of the Guyana Prison Service. This programme seeks to address the challenge by focusing on the over-reliance of the Criminal Justice System on custodial sentences and the overuse of pre-trial detention.
The clinic, which is a component of the SCJS, was set up to provide representation for persons before the court, non-violent, pre-trial detainees, who cannot afford legal representation.
The legal aid clinic believes is fulfilling its mandate in reducing the prison population, Head of the SCJS Indira Anandjit told the News Room. She said the clinic provided a service to many who never used a lawyer before.