Apr 16, 2016 News
…42 prison officers on ‘sick leave’—a source reveals
Tension continues to mount at the Georgetown Prison. Inmates have taken control of the reformatory, forcing some 42 prison wardens to take sick leave out of fear of an attack from the prisoners, a prison officer said.
The officer, who spoke under the condition anonymity, stated that on Thursday, 42 prison officers sent in sick leave certificates, following a takeover of the prison by the inmates. This is contrary to reports being peddled in the media that 13 prison officers submitted sick leave certificates.
On Thursday, President David Granger ordered security to be beefed up at the prison during an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee, at the Ministry of Presidency. He called for the police and the army to secure the jail.
Also Director of Prisons (Ag) Carl Graham has sought backup from the Timehri and Lusignan Prisons and from the Administrative Division at the Camp Street Prison in order to keep the situation under control.
President Granger has ordered that the outer cordons of the prison be extended to include D’Urban, John and Bent Streets, which will be blocked off to the public except for persons residing within those areas, as is done on Camp Street.
He has directed the Guyana Police Force to assist Prison officers in manning the Camp Street facility, and the Guyana Defence Force to assist in guarding the outer cordons of its precincts. The ranks took up their positions yesterday. Twelve soldiers were seen guarding the four points of the prison, along with police.
Since the deadly prison unrest in March, the committee heard, inmates have become brazen in exposing their weapons, and behaving much more aggressive toward prison wardens. Thus, the officers, being fearful for their lives, have decided to stay away.
The source stated that the wardens are frustrated because they feel nothing is being done to protect them. Graham, on the other hand, denied these accusations. Last night, he stated that the prison was not taken over by the inmates.
He said that the prison authorities have never lost control of their keys. “The keys are in the hands of the officers. Prisoners are not unsupervised. There are a lot of speculations coming from outside of the prison but it is not true,” he said, adding that the speculations were being peddled to further ignite the present situation in the prison.
But one warden said that on Thursday, the keys to the prison were handed over to inmates by a fellow officer. Since then, the officer said, the prison yard has become crowded with prisoners.
“They came out of their cells and went into the tuck shop and bought $17,500 in ration. When they were finished they went into the kitchen and cook their own food. Cobra, who is a high profile prisoner, is the ring leader and he was seen making an egg sandwich in the kitchen,” the warden said.
The warden, who was in tears, indicated that there was no prison officer left in the prison. “We are all afraid to go in because we cannot talk to them. They have cutlasses and jookers,” the source cried, indicating that even though officers from the Mazaruni Prison were called in to control the situation, they too refuse to enter the prison walls.
“If Samuels was here none of this would be happening. Right now the female officers cannot go into the prison because they were told that they would be sodomized if they do. I just want them to show the video of the day of the riot…Is the prisoners who are causing all of this. They were told to come out but they lock the door and let the fire burn,” the officer stated.
The prison unrest left 17 prisoners dead and five injured. The deadly fire was started by inmates housed in the Capital Offences section of the prison during the riot. It is believed that the men were burnt to death.
The source recounted that a female prison warden was pushed down a flight of stairs by a prisoner after she found him using a cell phone. “These prisoners are walking around with jookers in their waist.
Up to [Thursday] they were playing cricket and football in the yard after six. The prison has lost control of prisoners. There is no control. The Directors are not communicating with us and the condemned prisoners are walking up and down in the prison as they please.”
There are reports of an upsurge in cases of marijuana being thrown over the prison fences and instances where prisoners would spit on wardens and throw faeces and urine on them.
Another source indicated that 80 per cent of the prisoners possessed weapons. The source further stated that a gang fight broke out in the prison early yesterday morning.
However, the tension in the prison has not affected prisoners going to court or the self-help programme.
“They are walking around with jookers in their waist, their cell phones and ear pieces in their ears making calls in front of you. Smoking marijuana free, free,” the source said.
Tactical Services Unit (TSU) ranks were placed inside of the prison to overlook the jail yard. They were geared with bullet-proof vests and guns.
Last week, a warden was gravely injured after he was attacked by inmates.
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