-Minister Benn tells Prison Service Board and Visiting Committee Forum
MEMBERS of the Guyana Prison Service Board were, on Saturday, urged to place more emphasis on the rehabilitation of inmates, and not just keeping them locked away.
This call was made by Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, at the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) Board and Visiting Committee Forum held at the National Racket Centre in Georgetown.
According to a press release from the Prison Service, Benn noted that the inmates’ path to rehabilitation was not a simple one and they require additional social support.
He explained that they continue to struggle greatly outside of prison due to the stigma associated with being a felon.
Inmates’ rehabilitation and full reintegration into society were priorities for the government, according to Minister Benn. He asserted that the government continues to make daily efforts to ensure that individuals who end up behind bars find redemption and that they are better people when they rejoin society.
It was further noted that the government was working to increase institutional capacity each year so that more inmates can take advantage of the various programmes.
“Use the time that they spend incarcerated to engage them in rehabilitation programmes and to better prepare them to be better citizens on the way out,” the Home Affairs Minister was quoted as saying in the press release.
Meanwhile, according to the release, the Chairman of the GPS’s Sentence Management Board, Captain Gerald Gouveia, in his address, stated that the various boards such as Sentence Management, Recruitment, Training, Parole, and Agriculture, along with the visiting committees play a vital role in the existence of the GPS.
“Every prison system should be subject to oversight, so this is where the boards and committees come in. We should ensure that all the rules and policies are instituted in order to maintain good order and discipline within the prison walls”, Captain Gouveia, who is also the National Security Advisor to President Dr. Irfaan Ali was quoted as saying.
Gouveia further added, “The prison system is a very important component of our joint services because it’s a place where we rehabilitate people who have gone down the wrong line. So, rehabilitation in the prisons is vital, and that is where we as board and committee members can also play a pivotal role.”
The one-day forum shed light on the advancements made and difficulties encountered by the GPS boards and visiting committees during the previous year, while also helping to create a forward-thinking working environment with the Prison Directorate.
The numerous boards and visiting committees serve as an oversight body to make sure the prison service carries out its duty and to intervene when necessary, according to Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliot.