New secure prison complex at Lusignan will prevent escapes – Benn

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The new prison complex currently under construction at the Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara is being built to prevent escapes, Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn said on Saturday.

Former farmlands at the prison are being transformed into new holding areas and are about 25 per cent complete. The self-contained and dormitory setting facilities will cost the state some $1.2 billion with 25 per cent of the work already completed; it should be ready for housing by early 2022.

“The new facility will be more secure and the question of the perimeter issues, the towers, fencing, and all those matters will be resolved,” Benn told the media at the sidelines of an event at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Saturday.

The minister was responding to questions about the security of the prison following several prison breaks this year.

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn (Photo: DPI/October 30, 2021)

The most recent escape occurred on Thursday last; double murdered accused Kapildeo Gangadin, 24, escaped from the Lusignan Prison after he tampered with the quarantine housing unit at the prison. Hours after he escaped, Gangadin was recaptured while in a minibus proceeding to Parika on the East Bank Essequibo.

Minister Benn said that surveillance cameras at the prison, captured when Gangadin escaped. The prison officers who were on duty at the time will be sanctioned appropriately, Benn said.

“The question is not getting out of the immediate area; the question is the surveillance from the towers, surveillance from the cameras at the prison itself because there are monitoring cameras, there are even questions at the center in Georgetown where they are also monitoring cameras for all of the prisons.

“…. but there is always the question of human element in everything that we do and as you go along in a large organisation there are issues you have to deal with and ensure you take the appropriate measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Minister Benn stated.

In June this year, an estimated $1.2 billion contract was signed for the reconstruction of the Lusignan Prison Lots 1-3 Guyana Prison Service Region No. 4.

It is expected that with the expansion, it will aid in the successful rehabilitation and education of offenders, and enhance the prison system to ensure offenders are not a risk to public security and safety.

Roughly 1,000 prisoners were taken to the Lusignan facility, initially constructed to house just about 200 prisoners, following the fire that gutted the Camp Street Prions in 2017.

As such, a holding area had been tarmacked and roofed to temporarily house these displaced inmates. The new modern building will have a fire suppression system and access to adequate water with adherence to all international specifications for the housing of prisoners.

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