$30M equipment handed over to Prison Service to boost rehabilitative agenda

As part of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme (SCJS), Information Communications Technology (ICT) equipment totalling approximately $30 million was on Monday handed over to the Guyana Prison Service.

At a simple handing-over ceremony at the Ministry of Legal Affairs boardroom, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, said the equipment will help to advance government’s rehabilitative agenda for the prison system, as well as assist with training all categories of prisoners in ICT.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC

The equipment will benefit the prison centres at New Amsterdam, Lusignan, Timehri and Mazaruni. It comprises 100 desktop computers, ten laptops, four wifi routers, four laserjet printers, and five projectors with screens.

The equipment is expected to facilitate educating the prisoners, creating and nurturing an environment conducive to rehabilitation and upliftment, so that these persons are better equipped to be reintegrated into society upon their release.

“This is only one component of our relationship with the prisons. We are working to improve mental health facilities within the prison structure. We are now more scientific, analytical and programmatic in our approach, and we are looking at these issues closer,” AG Nandlall stated.

The programme’s core objective is the reduction of the prison population, but it also plays a seminal role in the creation and exploration of alternative avenues that advance government’s rehabilitative agenda. This agenda seeks to remove the punitive nature of the prison system, pushing for further reduction in recidivism through education and increased productivity.

(Left to Right) SCJS Project Manager, Indira Anandjit, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliot, and Officer in Charge Prisoners’ Welfare and Corrections, Marielle Bristol- Grant

Research has shown that high rates of imprisonment are associated with prisoners’ return to crime upon release, and given the proclivities of Guyana’s criminal justice system to default to imprisonment to sanction crimes, government’s efforts are to address these concerns through more effective methods.

The AG said, “The prison service is a central part of the justice system and the way that things are evolving, there is now a movement away from punitive sanctions and a concentration more on rehabilitation of the individual in the prison system as well as exploring new concepts such as restorative justice.”

Further, the equipment will enable prisoners with access to a first-class computer lab, essentially boosting productivity and avoiding recidivism.

“The prison service requires the ability to rehabilitate, reorient the perpetrator and prepare that person for a new beginning when they are released from the system. That can’t be done unless the prison is equipped with the physical hardware and the facilities to allow that type of programmatic development to take place at the institutional level of the prison itself so that the inmates can benefit,” the AG explained.

Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliot, expressed gratitude to the government for its continued support for the betterment of Guyana’s Criminal Justice system.

The Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme enabled the Ministry of Legal Affairs to draft the Restorative Justice Bill, as well as systems put in place for the development of standards, guidelines, and rules of procedure for the implementation of restorative justice in Guyana.