Prison officers claim they are under threat by prisoners with cell phones

Prisoner officers attached to several prisons across the country are concerned about what they say is too much power being given to prisoners.

“The system is not favoring us,” one officer told this publication recently after it has been alleged that another prisoner had reportedly contacted a senior member of the Guyana Prison Service via cell phone to complain about a prison officer.

The officers are alleging that a senior prison officer has given prisoners “permission” to “use cell phones” in the jails, particularly Camp Street and Lusignan prisons. Speaking to this publication under anonymity one officer said that some prisoners have demanded to keep cell phones found in their possession and prisoners officers have been directed to allow those prisoners to keep cell phones.

“The prisoners don’t have to complain but if an officer doing something, they must record them, so you telling the prisoners in other words, they have control over us,” the officer said.

Another officer related an incident in which a prisoner (name provided) was sick and demanded to be sent to the hospital. The officer said that prisoners are not taken to the hospitals very late in the night unless there is an emergency. They said this is for obvious  security reasons. The officer explained that the prisoner was examined by a medical staff which is what happens in such cases and the staff determined that the prisoner could be taken to the hospital the following morning.

One officer reportedly spoke to the prisoner, “the officer said – “yuh nah gan dead, tomorrow deh right down hay or whatever it is, you can wait,” I do not know what this prisoner do, the prisoner recorded everything that said between the officer and the prisoner and the prisoner cut and paste this recording as though the officer was telling the prisoner, yuh gan stay right down deh, we ain’t carrying you out now, the prisoner forwarded it to the director, directly.”

Another prisoner, (name provided) related what the senior prison official allegedly instructed him to record prisoner officers, “Prisoner (name provided) said the (named official) tell he, when prison officers go round him funny and them thing, his work is to call him, when you see officers doing any, anything, his work is to call him.”

Another incident involved an officer who the prison officers alleged were collecting monies from prisoners to buy items and deliver to them. They said the officer allegedly took the money and never delivered the goods then complained that one prisoner was calling her repeatedly. That prisoner was then thrown into solitary confinement for almost two months.

They said this is even as prisoners are being told that being found with a cell phone in prison is not a major infraction. They are concerned that these prisoners can use the phone to defy the system and are equally concerned about their safety.

Director of Prisons (ag) Niclon Elliot dismissed the allegations saying they have “no merit.” Elliot told this publication that such instructions would never come from him, “that would never happen under my watch and I don’t think that any professional or right-minded persons would say or do something like that,” he declared.
The Director of Prisons (ag) believes that allegations are being made to “create mischief or confusion,” in the Guyana Prison Service as he asked, “why would I say something like that or do something like that, or encourage such a behavior pattern, that makes no sense.”