Minister Ramjattan Hosts Debriefing Meeting with International Technical Advisor on Inmate Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration

Hon. Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan on Friday last received extensive briefing from Professor Ernest Uwazie, Inmate Rehabilitation and Reintegration (R&R) expert, on the consultant’s initial assessment of prison locations nationally. Professor Uwazie was hired through the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) to provide technical and strategic advisory services to the Project Executing Unit (PEU) on prisoners’ rehabilitation and reintegration along with the conduct of a needs assessment.

Professor Uwazie informed the Minister of Public Security that based on his visits to the prison locations he was able to identify some critical issues that must be addressed in order to achieve successful reintegration of inmates after serving their sentence. The issues identified were: improving the prison infrastructure, giving greater focus to corrective approaches, training to increase educational levels of inmates, employment skills building for inmates, and facilitating systematic contact between inmates and their families to support reintegration measures, inter alia.

Among the consultant’s tasks are conducting an assessment of the adequacy of the Guyana Prison Service’s physical infrastructure, and capacities to facilitate the implementation of a R&R programme in compliance with international standards; reviewing the inmate management module of the Guyana Prison Service and advising the CSSP on what is required to make it operational and compatible with other justice-chain institutions, supportive of case management, and the generation of data for evidence based decision-making; and developing a handbook on safeguards required to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of prison inmates.

Professor Uwazie is a professor of criminal justice at California State University, Sacramento, USA. He holds a Ph.D. in justice studies, with specialization in dispute resolution and comparative justice and is a graduate of the Harvard Law School Programme on Negotiation & Mediation. He is also a facilitator at the California State Prison in Sacramento.

The strengthening of R&R capabilities of the Guyana Prison Service is a key component of CSSP. Prison overcrowding and inexistence of a comprehensive inmate R&R model and management tools are two prominent issues that that the CSSP is currently addressing. Prison rehabilitation programmes have shown to improve social and economic reintegration and reduce criminal recidivism.  In seeking to reduce prison overcrowding, the CSSP is also finalising procurement activities to hire a consultant to conduct a study of alternatives to pre-trial detention to reduce the number of pre-trial detainees in prison.