From the mouths, pens and computers of writers, analysts, qualified, experienced and wise persons – as well as the ordinary, law-abiding and vulnerable citizens – there flowed an outpouring of views and suggestions regarding the recent prison riots, arson and escapes.
This national response was just natural and justifiable. The APNU+AFC administration was put on the spot. And justifiably so. Because whilst it was/is true that President Granger’s government inherited numerous porous policies and wretched, disastrous budgetary bankrupt programmes, the APNU+AFC planners and managers cannot escape blame and responsibility for the prisoners’ organised burning down of Lot 12 Camp Street and the subsequent goings-on at Lusignan. Frankly Speaking, all the fine security minds and experts affiliated to the Brigadier have so far failed miserably!
If there is an upside to all the failures of prison security so far, it is that a relentless programme of prison reform, more modern penitentiaries, preventative and rehab strategies and budget allocations will be launched.
The money will be located and foreign donors will be approached. Because, Frankly Speaking, the President himself has to be feeling quite bad about recent prison events. His role as “Apologist-in-Chief” cannot mask his disappointment.
Now what follows might be fictionalised slightly. But it is intended to spotlight the more human realities and shortcomings of today’s prison system. When temptations evolve into criminal enterprise as a sub-culture.
Percy the prisoner, Wally the warder
Percy ended up in Camp Street because of the young people’s “get-rich-quick” syndrome (by any means necessary). Percival was not at all violent by nature. Instead he was actually a thinker – of the more cunning variety. His brother was the more aggressive type who boasted a few convictions as well as affiliation to an organised gang. That brother goaded Percy into planning the massive fraud at his work-place. Swiftly, things fell apart and Percy earned a conviction of four years at the old Camp Street Prison.
Wally was a warder for just two years when he “encountered” Percy among the hundreds of the convicted in the overcrowded Camp Street facility. Twenty-seven-year-old Walter viewed his job merely as a third choice. Somehow, he didn’t make it into the Police Force or the Fire Service – which he preferred.
Wally’s prison psychology made him try to be a reformer. But he was in the minority. The jail environment could be brutal. The culture engulfed all minds. Soon, Wally could not confront or alter his colleagues’ attitudes. So, when Percy, then actually a “friend”, asked Wally to contact his brother, he (Wally) did. For $20,000 he took in a good cellular phone for Percy. For another $10,000 Wally arranged for a female colleague to charge the device from time to time.
Wally “supplemented” the Prison Service’s meagre monthly salary with weekly fees paid by Percy’s brother on the outside. Soon Wally the Warder was a virtual “employee” of Percy the Prisoner and his notorious brother.
With apologies and respect to the murdered officer Wickham, the above typifies how prisoner-warder relationships develop and compromise the discipline and order of too many of our prisons. What should be done? Discuss…
The President’s “reasons”
President Granger is correct. The Constitution does not require him to offer reasons for rejecting the twelve (12) persons nominated to be the Elections Commission Chairmanship so far.
Frankly Speaking, it should be obvious that the President manipulated his own “perception” of what the Constitution means by “any other fit and proper person”. Only he can attempt explanations for his approach. But would it not be most interesting to hear why the President did not favour the first twelve? (Was another six submitted by today?)
What does the President know about retired judges and legal minds put forward so far? What does he think of former colleague Norman McLean and the Big Businessman? It is obvious that he doesn’t trust the ability to be impartial; to be a just and fair chairperson presiding over the other six commissioners. Does it not have to do with the vital vote of the person selected? Or knowledge superior to the others? Or the ability to oversee effectively, the CEO and the other managers of the Commission? Discuss…
I tire! So I’ve avoided my usual Emancipation weekend admonitions of those organisations representing – or purporting to represent – the interests of Guyanese of African descent.
I am on record for asking that those leaders of that “community” organise and establish economic projects in communities to mark that August Emancipation observance.
There must be the lectures, the festivals, the “African” garments and relevant songs and music. But let the Diasporic “brothers and sisters” contribute to projects that uplift and finance the celebrants.
A village bakery or medical clinic; a large agricultural project or ICT “lessons”; or pre-fabricated houses? What say you? What emancipation? Discuss…
- The Economist is rude? Read it: “Guyana faces a risk of its petro-dollars being squandered on more sugar subsidies and pay rises for the unproductive public sector. The next election is due in 2020 just when the oil starts to flow. The victor could enjoy a well-lubricated quarter century in office”. Wow!
- Do they really mean not to build that new vendors’ mall at the abandoned Co-op Bank site in Stabroek?
’Til next week!