620 prisoners trained as part of rehabilitation programme

A total of 620 inmates across the country have completed training in a number of technical and vocational skills, in keeping with the Guyana Prison Service’s aim of promoting a smooth reintegration into society.  

During an interview with the Department of Public Information, Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliott said these training programmes are integral and aimed at equipping inmates with practical skills that will help them to gain employment upon their release.

Inmates at the Mazaruni Prison in class [Guyana Prison Service photo]

Inmates are exposed to a variety of hard and soft skills, such as family reconciliation, anger management, psychology, carpentry, joinery, masonry and agricultural production.

Training in technical or hard skills generally last three months, while the durations for soft skills training vary depending on the manner in which it is facilitated.

The Prison Service is actively engaging institutions such as the Government Technical Institute (GTI), Guyana Industrial Training Centre (GITC), and New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) to offer accredited training in technical areas.

“We also have officers who are attending those institutions. They can offer that skill set by training prisoners. We want our programmes to be accredited in keeping with those regional and international accreditation standards, and that is why we are seeking to partner with our local counterparts so that it can enhance the skillset of the prisoners. By September, they should be onboard in this aspect,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Elliott noted that, as the prison service transitions from penal to correctional, focus is being placed on forging partnerships with the private sector to offer inmates the opportunity to meet the growing demand for labour. 

“We have prisoners who are currently labouring within the private sector, where we provide services to contractors, such as through the block-making exercise ongoing at Timehri and Lusignan prisons. We also have persons working at various construction sites and that in itself reduced the cost for the contractors. Further, when contractors are given a contract to work within the prison, it is compulsory that they use prison labour to build the inmate’s core competence and to ensure that they earn while they are in prison,” he said.

The 2023 budget had allocated $100 million to facilitate the training of 1, 500 inmates to prepare them for life outside of prison.

This amount also accommodates the training of prison officers in prison management.

The aim is to train 439 prison officers this year in prison management, to ensure that the Prison Service is staffed with qualified and competent officers, with the necessary skills to allow them to effectively navigate the environment.

Elliot stressed, “It is important to look at local, regional, and international best practices, and compare what we are doing in keeping with those best practices. We have to look at those conventions that Guyana has signed on to and see which areas we are lacking so the necessary training can be incorporated. For example, it is mandatory that all ranks be exposed to human rights training.”