Study on Alternative to Pre-Trial Detention
Ministry of Public Security, Guyana, July 26, 2017 – Mr Peter Pursglove S.C., consultant contracted under the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Citizen Security Strengthening Programme, is in Guyana to hold consultations with a number of senior government functionaries, members of the Judiciary and Magistracy, technical officers from relevant government departments and ministries along with stakeholders from civil society and non-governmental organisations during the period July 24-28, 2017 in an effort to garner the relevant information and data to complete a study on alternatives to pre-trial detention. This is Mr Pursglove second visit in the conduct of this study.
The study is expected to contribute to a reduction in prison overcrowding and prevent further criminalisation of youths since it will contribute to the design of a structured pre-trial opportunity programme. From the consultant’s preliminary consultations with stakeholders it was recognised that currently there is no structured diversion programme in Guyana and that resources will have to be allocated by government if such programmes are to be established. However, before proceeding to design and implement such programme it is necessary to gather and analyse the relevant statistical and other types of information available relating to the various offender groups that may be targeted by any diversion programmes.
Among the consultant’s task are: reviewing criminal laws in order to flag for legislative review any offences that need no longer be classified as criminal acts or which may now be decriminalized; collecting and analysing the relevant statistical information relating to the various offender groups that may be targeted by any diversion programmes; consultating on the possibility of developing a diversion strategy aimed at diverting certain types of offenders out of the criminal justice system; investigating the possibility of establishing a pilot diversion programme for the mentally ill to ensure that offenders with mental health problems who enter the criminal justice system are identified and directed towards appropriate mental health care; examining the prospects of establishing a diversion strategy for alcohol and substance abusers aimed at curbing alcohol and drug related crime; and exploring possibilities for the use of restorative justice as a diversion mechanism and alternative to imprisonment in respect of matters that would otherwise be subject to criminal sanctions.
Citizen security and crime reduction is one of the leading policy priorities of the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. In this regard the Government, with assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank, has developed a Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) that focuses on the prevention and reduction of crime and violence, and public sector and civil society capacity building. As part of the CSSP the Consultant was hired to conduct research on models and good practices in the field of pre-trial detention and specifically to explore and present alternatives to pre-trial detention that are harmonious with the criminal justice processes in Guyana.