It’s still over there two years later in the middle of town. Isn’t it past the time when that jail in Georgetown should be gone? And if not wholly, then security significantly improved through better utilisation of the new city surveillance system? In that way, those hypertension-inducing barricades (and more) could be gone.
What message is being sent? Are the authorities really ‘on top of things’, as they would like us to believe? The conscious among us would disagree.
The area surrounding the jail is a traffic stroke: twitchy and unstable. In this very well-travelled area of the capital, there is this great inconvenience with all the closed sections of the surrounding streets. Why? And why now with the much-touted optical system in action?
To the bewilderment of citizens, there is this cheering about the newly unveiled, expensive state-of-the-art surveillance system city-wide, but the jail and its environs are not a major focal point. Why is this not so at this very sensitive and, shall we say, very concerning, jail structure? That is the overarching question.
Now for some additional questions for the authorities.
Question #1: In addition to the cameras already around the facility, why not place/position four of the high-definition, high-resolution cameras at the four corners (or the optimum vantage points available) around the jail, and have your people monitor them 24/7?
This would allow freeing up of the various arteries in that section of South Georgetown – the congested Smyth Street at rush hour comes to mind, with workers heading home, and with its milling, swarming congregations of young children.
Question #2: Why not place another (a fifth camera) on an elevated structure (mini-tower) in the centre of the compound, which could essentially serve as a permanent drone?
This would also be manned around the clock and bring another layer of comfort that unblinking eyes are in the right places.
Question #3: Why not seek permission to use the roof of the NIS building to locate still another electronic eye?
This will not only give ever wider scope in terms of surveillance, but would also give NIS management, staff, security personnel, and citizens with business to transact at the Scheme, even greater comfort. It could serve as an added intelligence source.
Question #4: With the surroundings so heavily fortified, is not the wrong message being sent: that you cannot control the criminal element(s), other than through the limitations of human presence and steel cordons?
It would be surprising if there is not a covert element that provides another layer of surveillance overseeing the prison. In view of the manpower shortage in the security sector, this would help to release some human resources, by rearranging parts of the coverage of the new surveillance system to focus intensely on the Georgetown Prison. Barricades can go.
Questions #5 & 6: If the fear is persons throwing dangerous items into the compound or the possibility of a jailbreak or drive-by shooting, wouldn’t an increased camera presence give pause to intended wrongdoers? Would you not have a reliable ‘source’ to follow, if anyone should try the unthinkable?
To repeat the obvious: sounds like a plan, a commonsense one.
Question #7: Are there any cameras directly overlooking the main entrance?
This is recommended.
Question#8: Are there any cameras in the section that family members/close relatives/visitors and prison officials traverse, given the numerous illicit items that enter the facility?
This would seem to be an automatic consideration for concentrated electronic attention. Puts people on alert. Makes them wonder what else is there… Makes them think twice. Makes attendant staff a bit more careful and conscientious about their duties.
This layered scrutiny could go far to ease the anxieties and fears of all concerned: and not only nearby residents and dedicated prison personnel, but also citizens wherever they may be. After all, escapees could end up anywhere and menace anyone.
In Guyana, the prisons, like the national borders, have earned a deserved reputation for porousness: they leak people and trouble. There is dread that with all the contraband traffic, tools are accumulated and could be put to work. The jail threatens families and community: Nowhere to go should escapists succeed.
Come to think of it, residents and wheeled passersby can’t go anywhere in a straight line along the regular ways. Travellers are forced to go around those steel barricades that have become abominations. There are disappointments over the inconveniences of them all: D’Urban Street, John Street, Bent Street, and Camp Street. The overflows regularly back-up Smyth and Norton Streets, in particular.
Residents manifest mounting impatience at being unable to access something as basic as one’s home. The affected include the business places and businesspeople put out of place and pocket. Loss of income, loss of services, loss of sense of self, loss of the timeworn familiar. It is ironic that in a place with so much space, the only place for a prison still is Georgetown. A project is underway. But nobody is listening now: taking too long.
The Camp Street facility must be an overnight holding area; a temporary shelter for misdemeanour violators only. We believe that the new surveillance system should be put to work at the jail in a manner that would free up the surrounding streets, as they once were. The barricades (and unnecessary bottlenecks) can go, and security will likely be enhanced.
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