Prison Service must focus on reintegration of inmates, respecting human rights – Home affairs minister

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn has charged the Guyana Prison Service has been charged to aim for continuous improvement in its operations, while also placing emphasis on the reintegration of inmates.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn addressing the opening of the Guyana Prison Service’s Senior Officers’ Conference on Thursday morning

The minister was speaking at the opening of the annual three-day Guyana Prison Service’s Senior Officers’ Conference, Thursday morning. It is being hosted under the theme ‘Promoting Rehabilitation and Societal Reintegration of Inmates’.

To this end, inmates at the Lusignan Prison will soon commence classes at the new vocational school at the East Coast prison complex.

“Not only a vocational school but to make up for the deficit in formal education that some people have missed by not having an opportunity and not paying attention in school. When we look at the prison system and the inmates, we see all of Guyana in there. We see each and every one of us in there,” Minister Benn expressed.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn

The need for prison officers to respect the human rights of the inmates was also highlighted by the minister, as government aims to achieve an exemplary prison system.

“They [inmates] have rights and those rights are human rights and I have said that I don’t want men struck and abused…Only in the last resort to prevent a situation from getting out of hand or to bring things under control. We don’t want physical abuse and we don’t want emotional abuse,” Minister Benn emphasised.

Meanwhile, Acting Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliot said in 2022, over 1,400 inmates benefitted from training in literacy, numeracy and various skills.

Acting Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliot

Additionally, inmates were trained in behavioural modification, anger and stress management, and conflict resolution among other programmes.

The Fresh Start Initiative was also initiated and a number of inmates have benefitted.

“The prison service administration has commenced the Fresh Start initiative under the leadership of Minister Benn. During that period, 10 inmates would have received tools and equipment to earn a sustainable income in the various fields, “he said.

These include cosmetology, tailoring, welding, carpentry, joinery and landscaping.

The acting director thanked the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs and by extension the government for its continuous support.

Several officers attended the conference, which is being held under the theme ‘‘Promoting Rehabilitation and Societal Reintegration of Inmates.’

Some of the objectives of the three-day conference are to create synergies at the managerial level, to reflect on accomplishments, and challenges of operations in 2022 and to build cohesive and coherent strategies for improvement in 2023.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mae Toussaint Jr. Thomas, National Security Advisor Captain Gerry Gouveia, Colonel Omar Khan, Acting Commissioner of Police, Clifton Hicken, Chief Fire Officer (ag), Gregory Wickham, and several other Prison officials were in attendance.