Guyana Prisons: From disease to sexual assault

Alas! I will never see these other things here

As a young student teacher, in my days gone by, I was taught to employ “repetition” where appropriate. That meant very good repetition reinforced the principles, rules, concepts you wanted students to understand and accept for a long time.

That’s partly why two of my editions today are repeats. Not laziness, I think they steal and repeat this, my special week.

In early December one column was headed “Saving Guyana’s Young New Criminals”. That is partly because I have been exposed to a comprehensive project being implemented by Attorney General Nandlall, which seeks to create meaningful public awareness about reform of the Guyana Criminal Justice System. One of the major urgent objectives of that ongoing program is to prevent and reduce the current overcrowding in the country’s inadequate prison.

So in that column, I outlined the components of the reforms and upgrades to be implemented across our justice system, such as inconsistent sentencing, prosecution eligibility, legal aid, restorative justice, alternatives to prison / custodial sentences and, of course, the state of our prisons.

In the column at the beginning of December, I discussed the various alternatives to prison time for minor non-violent offenses and the young offenders. Before he was invited to enjoy a long vacation, Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels was quite persuasive – as the attorney general – in detailing the consequences of incarceration for young offenders. Four interviews I did last week on Wednesday reinforced the director’s first-hand knowledge. And it even managed to stun my maturation!


The sordid sides of our prisons

Prisons and prisons are places of confinement, even some restriction of normal liberty, for those guilty of various crimes based on the law of society – serious or mild.

Penitentiaries, by their very name, are what all prisons really should be: institutions to inspire penance and repentance and the willingness of prisoners to be resettled.

At one time, our prisons offered academic courses / lessons; carpentry; carpentry; tailoring; boxing, steel band training and the like. The situation now? Well three of my interviewees agreed last week on one contemptible aspect of current local prison life: rampant sexual assaults! Based on verifiable information, their close relatives and acquaintances after their incarceration, they described sexual assaults, inmates-in-prison, in both male and female prisons in Guyana.

One woman claimed that depressed female prisoners in New Amsterdam are being exploited – with instruments – by hard-core women serving long sentences. But this (allegedly) true story amazed me: in Lusignan years ago a young prisoner was sexually assaulted daily! The wardens did little to stop this abomination. Sick, humiliated and physically desperate, the poor victim turned to face a senior prison officer and also followed a few weak punches. After beating he was jailed on his own – and he welcomed that.

What else is happening in Camp Street? Timehri? Lusignan? Mazaruni? Where can the replacement of crazy “cooperative” prison wardens be found?

How is ” business ” organized and conducted in our prisons these days? Bring on investigative journalists. Go to ministers Benn, Nandlall and Edghill.


28/76 NA – 1945: A glorious year!

Lightweight today. On the cover of Guyenterprise’s annual best-selling magazine focusing on folk culture last November, he assured the world that I will complete 76 years this Sunday (31st). I will be happy to observe the anniversary of my birth.

But today this column also completes 28 years! Drums, horns, girls dancing! Thank you south Caires for allowing working class expression.

And that was the glorious year of 1945! Allan Arthur Fenty was born in his first month. Germany surrendered unconditionally and the Second World War ended. As Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt controlled both (higher) powers.

On February 23, 1945 a large fire destroyed the poor commercial heart of Georgetown. But over in the good old USA Elvis Presley first appeared in public at the age of 10 and the Andrews Sisters grabbed the calypso Rum and Coca Cola.

For the year 1945 – and AAFenty is still alive! Were you born in 1945? In January? Ho-ho-ho!


So sad to realize that I will never see …

Yes as I progress to 77 I feel strongly that I will never experience some “normal” things in my homeland. (A PPP “fellow” assures me that my “dreams” will come through / come true by 2030. I told him I don’t feel I’ll reach 86!)

So reiterate • I will never experience the Garden City of my youth in Georgetown • Le Repentir Cemetery – the jungle will never become a civilized resting place • A quality, civil service to customers will never happen in this country. • Government and opposition will never praise each other’s achievements – except for temporary anti-Venezuela feelings • Our entertainers will never mature as we listen to endless Jamaican sounds.

• Electric blackouts will continue, only oil and gas revenue could save. • The capital’s restricted roads will never be upgraded.

Maybe I’ll live to see the promising new Ogle-to-Diamond road. Poor me. Poor us.


Imagine! Ponder…

● 1) So if the current government prosecutes suspected thieves who served the last regime, it’s always political or racist?

● 2) As is often repeated above, this weekend is my 76th! I am now publicly appealing for a $ 76,000 mobile phone, laptop or bracelet from the NIS or the Ministry of Culture or the Berbice River Bridge Company!

`Until next week!

(allanafenty @ yahoo, com)