Mar 03, 2013 News
– System designed to help trafficking, corruption
By Rabindra Rooplall
After working for the Guyana Prison Service for five years, and being gagged under the Prison Act, Chapter 11:01 of the Laws of Guyana, a former Principal Prison Officer (PO1) says there is grave injustice and corruption within the prison institution in addition to the daily violations of human rights that occur behind the prison walls.
“If a prison warder is working for 14 hours and no proper food or water is provided, the prisoners then see the suffering of the warders and in turn offer them things, in exchange for favours that might include trafficking.
Even Jesus and his angels would accept a bottle of juice when they are hungry or thirsty at work. This in turn causes many more things to be exchanged. The system is designed for trafficking!” Principal Prison Officer Suzie Wong-yip said
During her tenure, Miss Wong-yip who is an electrician by trade also taught inmates for the past two years, she taught Basic Electrician Installation (both practical and theoretical) and trained approximately 50 inmates of whom 25 successfully completed training.
“I am an ordinary citizen of this country who knows my rights were violated. I am not affiliated with any political party or other…The prison and the system have damaged me psychologically; they make you feel like a ‘good for nothing’ when they are done with you,” Suzie Wong- yip said.
“Let me set the record straight. I don’t give bribe and I don’t take bribe! So the Prison service could never appreciate someone like me for long.
I worked according to Prison Act Chapter 11:01. And the administration from top to bottom like to penalize persons with the regulations and none upholds these same rules and laws, from the Director to ordinary rank.”
Adding that the Director of Prison’s Dale Erskine has been accused of many wrong doings, the Principal Prison Officer said sometimes money is taken out of workers’ income for promotional tickets, even before they collect it “and if you decided you don’t want to support and you will talk, especially if female warders are sexually molested and want to talk out, they (Directorate and seniors) would punish you in ways that can stifle promotion and transfers to spite and intimidate you!”
The woman said that many things bought with taxpayers’ money are being stolen even before and after they enter the prisons, Miss Wong-yip said these items include food supplies, medical drugs, detergents and donations given to the prisons. They are being fetched away by prison warders and officers who leave a minimal amount for prisoners.
“Imagine when the Logos Hope ship donated a Canter load of items that include disinfectant, cleaning agents, and shampoo for the hygiene of prisoners, only the measly sample soaps and other small items were handed over through the prison fellowship. Only some books and other stuff reached into the prison. I don’t know if it was sold or parked up at somebody’s house!” Miss Wong-yip lamented.
Noting the frustrations of the prison system, Miss Wong-yip further disclosed that although she filed tons of complaints to the Directorate nothing is being done or the relevant authorities are not in receipt of the reports.
“Imagine the Government giving out 90,000 laptops and the 12 persons who teach in the prison have one computer to use. They say Rohee said that we must write our reports with hands.”
“I normally buy my own pens and pencils. The Mormons were giving the prisons 25 computers, but Minister Rohee did not want it to go through his Ministry, and it was never given to the Prisons. Now what kind of systems and society do we have?”
After being on the wrong side of the fence, Miss Wong-yip was then assigned to Prison Head Quarters where she was given no duties until proceeding on annual leave. Upon returning she was transferred with immediate effect to Timehri Prison with custodial section from 6pm to 6 am shift.
The transportation cost had increased from $160 to $700 per day, Wong-yip said. The transfer caused her and family great discomfort and was a financial burden. “I am a single parent with a young teenage daughter at home alone and my home is not secure, and my salary was still below $40,000 a month.”
“The Senior Officers always arrive late for duty to unlock and lock down the Prison, so both night and day staff have to await their arrival for relief and departure. The 12- hour shift became extended to fourteen hours.
These situations contributed to my leaving the prison system,” Wong-yip explained.
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