Nov 14, 2016 News
– as authorities seek to stem smuggling of prohibited items
A device that can detect items hidden in body crevices, as well as more sophisticated walk-through scanners are equipment that prison authorities hope to acquire next year, to stem the smuggling of weapons and other prohibited items into the country’s penitentiaries.
Deputy Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels told Kaieteur News yesterday that prison authorities have already budgeted for the items.
He disclosed that the walk-through scanners that officials are seeking to acquire would be similar to the ones used at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The equipment would be able to store data to allow prison officers to review the footage and detect if an individual was allowed to pass with a prohibited item.
Samuels said that according to law, everyone entering the prisons, “from the Director right down,” is subjected to searches.
In addition to the walk-through scanners and others to detect items hidden in bags, prison officials are also seeking to acquire equipment that can detect items that prisoners conceal on their person.
According to the Deputy Director, it has long been suspected that some inmates hide items in their rectums.
He said that in the past, prisoners suspected of doing this would be sent to hospital to be examined.
With the equipment that the officials hope to acquire, inmates suspected of hiding items in their rectums would be required to sit on the device, which is equipped with X-ray equipment.
But Samuels also noted that the cost of some of the equipment is somewhat prohibitive, with the walk-through scanners valued at approximately $12M.
Because of this, the equipment would only be installed at the Georgetown Prisons for now.
The Deputy Director noted that Barbados already has such equipment at its prison.
“Barbados is way ahead of us. What we found in the Georgetown Prison (on Saturday) is what Barbados finds in a year.
In the past some prison warders have been implicated in smuggling items into the prisons, and Samuels conceded that it is likely that this is still occurring.
He also alluded to the 2002 jailbreak, in which it was believed that prison ranks assisted in the smuggling of a firearm that was used by the escapees.
That jailbreak triggered a spree of brutal killings, robberies and kidnappings. The effects of that ‘crime wave’ are still being felt.
As part of a countrywide anti-crime operation named Operation Safe Guard, joint services ranks seized a large number of prohibited items from the Georgetown and New Amsterdam Prisons.
Confiscated from the Georgetown Prison were 22 cellular phones; 558 grammes of marijuana; nine packets of cigarettes; eight cellular phone chargers; a quantity of zip lock bags; 45 lighters; a quantity of bamboo wrappers; a quantity of wine; 21 weapons; four cellular phone batteries; one arrow; two pairs of scissors; $300 cash; TT$200; four grabber hooks; five gallons of home-made wine; 20 razor blades; five sim cards and a tattoo machine.
According to the Ministry of the Presidency, a lesser number of items were found at the New Amsterdam prison.
“Of grave concern to the security forces is that the Georgetown Prison was last searched on September 23, 2016, which means that the contraband item haul accumulated in just under two months. The government will continue to work closely with the Guyana Prison Service and the Joint Services to address on-going security weaknesses at the nation’s correctional facilities,” the statement said.
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