Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels
The refusal of a prisoner officers’ return contrabands to prison inmates after it was seized coupled with the assault of a prisoner by four prisoner officers on Sunday is what lead to the rioting and fire at the Lusignan Prisons.
Gladwin Samuels told the press that after the items were found on Sunday and the disturbance started, the prisoners told the prison officers that if they returned the illicit items, the place will return to normalcy as they would calm down, however, the prison officers were not prepared to take that illegal course of action.
This was confirmed by Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels during a press conference this morning which was shared with Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary.
Samuels has since indicated that the officers have been removed from the environment to avoid any further tensions even as the prisoner who was assaulted was taken for medical attention with ten others who were injured as a direct result of the fires.
It was noted that while one round was discharged during the operation of the joint services at the facility, no prisoner was shot. Samuels noted that the round was discharged after it was found that during the relocating of the prisoners from the burning area to a safe place, one of the inmates had a brand new cutlass in his waist and refused to hand it over to the prison officials.
The Director told the press conference that the based on initial investigations, there is no evidence to suggest that what took place was political in nature or had any political influence, he, however, did remind that during the ordeal, prisoners were making certain remakes which could be regarded as them seeing an opportunity to do so.
All prisoners who were taken for medical attention was returned to the facility and the prison authority is in the process of ensuring that those inmates who have issues with others are not being placed together in the holding bay as it could cause further conflicts. Samuels was quick to point out that the prison authority will not always know of every prisoner who has an issue with another one so the vetting process is continuing.
At the moment, all the prisons of the facility are housed in the holding bay, they amount to close to six hundred and represent those who were previously held inside the holding bay as well as those who were in the main prison building prior to the fire. The main building is the area that was destroyed by fire on Sunday during the disturbance, the Director of Prisons noted.
Yesterday’s issue at the prison saw the deployment of the Joint Services which effectively took control of the situation along with the timely response f the fire tender to the report of the fire but given the aged wooden structure in the compound, the firefighters were unable to save the structure.
Samuels noted that by late last evening, the Guyana Defense Force withdrew from the operation as there was no longer a need for them there and prison and police officers increased their presence at the location and that posture remains in place.