– transfer of prisoners to commence today
Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday advised that the new holding area at the Lusignan Prison Complex is almost complete and the handing over will be done today.
Transfer of prisoners from the current open air section to the newly constructed holding area which has improved facilities will also commence today.
Minister Ramjattan visited the Lusignan Prison complex yesterday to receive an on-site update on the works. The completion of the works on the holding area was delayed as a result of persistent inclement weather in recent days.
The new holding area has been roofed and will temporarily house approximately 450 prisoners who were transferred from the Georgetown Prison which was destroyed by fire on Sunday July 9th.
In addition, works are continuing at the brick penitentiary building at the Georgetown Prison and another area which was not destroyed by the fire. These two buildings will house a total of 350 prisoners at the Georgetown Prison location, further reducing the numbers of inmates who are being held at Lusignan.
To date, over 400 prisoners in total have been transferred to the prisons in New Amsterdam, Mazaruni and Timehri.
Another release stated that Government has secured financing in the form of a US$8M loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the “Support for the Criminal Justice System Project”. The project became eligible for funding on June 16, 2017. The key objectives of the project are reducing the use of pre-trial detention and increasing the use of alternative sentencing.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs, Supreme Court of Judicature, Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Social Protection; and the Ministry of Finance are the main stakeholders of this project. Moreover, in being the executing agency, the Ministry of Legal Affairs has demonstrated administrative capacity and commitment to oversee this project.
Earlier this week, the scheduled project launch was unfortunately cancelled due to the recent prison disturbance. Nonetheless, the project workshop was held and the key outputs discussed were establishing a Legal Aid pilot project which will provide legal assistance to persons accused of minor, non-violent offenses in pre-trial detention; enhancing the DPP and Police Prosecutors capacities to handle their cases before they proceed to trial; building capacity enhancement at the Magistracy Level to expedite cases and address alternative sentencing; implementing a restorative justice pilot project under the Ministry of Legal Affairs to solve minor offenses or disputes; strengthening of the Probation Service Department to perform adequate follow up of treatments delivered in and after prison, so as to better tend to the rehabilitative needs of those who present a lesser risk of reoffending; and strengthening the Law Reform Commission at the Ministry of Legal Affairs in its role of drafting new legislations introducing non-custodial sanctions suitable for different types of offenses.
A Project Steering Committee, chaired by the Ministry of Legal Affairs, has been established to provide oversight and strategic direction for the project.
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