– Director of Prisons
Guyana is a long way from setting up an audio-video project which allows some selected inmates to communicate with their children and even help them with schoolwork.
Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels gave this response recently after Kaieteur News enquired whether such a programme can be set up in Guyana, as Trinidad is preparing to do.
Samuels said that this may be possible “in years to come when we have the infrastructure and other support systems in place.” He also said that security measures would have to be put in place to ensure that the system is not compromised. He revealed that the issue was discussed at a recent conference.
That possibility would have been further set back with the devastating fire that razed the Georgetown Prisons.
According to a recent Trinidad Newsday article, selected prisoners in Trinidad “will soon be able to have face to face conversations, help with homework and even read stories to their children, all while behind bars, as part of a new initiative launched by the Prison Service in collaboration with the National Library and Information Service (NALIS).”
The report stated that the project was launched by acting Prison Commissioner Gerard Wilson at a function celebrating the 180th anniversary of the prison service on Friday at Prisons Sports Club in Arouca.
It stated that Wilson underlined the importance of inmates maintaining an active presence in their children’s life and said the programme is testament to the continuous work of the prison service in not only housing inmates, but promoting restorative justice.
According to the article, the Skype project seeks to reconnect incarcerated parents who have been in the system for at least one continuous year, displayed good behaviour and who have been involved in rehabilitation programmes approved by the prison service.
Each session lasts half an hour between parents at a prison and any NALIS Children’s Library. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Vel Lewis expressed support for the initiative and said the Ministry remains committed to providing the prisons with necessary infrastructural upgrades to improve the quality of life and service behind bars.
According to a 2015 story in the Mirror, Prisoners in Northern Ireland are being given access to Skype to make video calls – in a UK first.
Over 70 approved inmates at Magilligan jail in Co Londonderry are being allowed access to the audio-visual technology as part of a new rehabilitation project.
Governor of Magilligan David Eagleson said, “We know that when prisoners have strong family support, they are in better shape for reintegration to family and community and we see this as an important part of the rehabilitation process.”
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