…as he staggers to find solution for prison woesIn response to the recent incidents within the local prison system, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has met with a team of persons with expertise to discuss possible solutions to address the issues facing the Guyana Prisons Service (GPS).Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanThis was revealed by Minister of State Joseph Harmon on Friday morning at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing.“The Minister has been asked to convene a special team of officers and technical persons who have an understanding of the prison system to meet with him and to advise on further steps to be taken,” the State Minister said.When contacted later on Friday, Minister Ramjattan would only confirm that the meeting did happen, noting that he could not disclose what was discussed or whom he had met with. However, <<<<>>>> understands that certain recommendations were presented to the Public Security Minister during the meeting.On Monday morning, three inmates from the Lusignan Penitentiary, one of whom has since been recaptured, scaled the fence of the Holding Bay area and escaped. Later that night, several inmates at the facility kicked up a riot over the food they were served and in retaliation, ranks opened fire on them resulting in at least 10 of them being injured.At a press conference following these incidents, Minister Ramjattan lamented that he does not know what else can be done to address the troubles within the prisons system, describing it as an extraordinarily difficult circumstance.“I don’t have any other suggestions… for their security, for the citizens’ security as to what we can do there… So look, the thing gives me headache every night,” the Public Security Minister asserted.He went on to disclose that the requests made to various international agencies for funding to address the state of affairs within the prison system have been rejected and so now the only solution would be to await money Guyana will earn from oil production in two years’ time.With overcrowding being a major issue in local prisons, the troubles of the system worsened during the last three years. In March 2016, seventeen inmates were killed and several others injured after they set fire inside one of the holding areas in the Camp Street Prison.The situation took a turn for the worst in July last year after a jailbreak and fire which completed destroyed the Camp Street penitentiary, leaving just one concrete building which was recently built standing in the compound.Following that 2017 incident, over 1000 prisoners housed at the Georgetown penitentiary were displaced. While some were moved to the Mazaruni Prison, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) or granted early release or bail, others remained at the Lusignan Prison under strained circumstances.There are currently some 558 inmates at the East Coast of Demerara penitentiary.According to Minister Harmon, at Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, they have encountered two sets of issues facing the prison system; one of which has to do with the operation of the facilities and as such, clear directions were given to acting Prisons Director Gladwin Samuels to address these matters.“Interviews with the prisoners actually brought out the questions of the meals, accommodation, water and sanitary facilities… So we did express our concerns that those issues which are operational in nature must be addressed by the Director of Prisons and his officers. Also, the fact that the officers should, on a regular basis, interact with those prisoners who are there to find out whether in fact there are issues which are brewing and so we instructed that that also be done,” he stated.The other set of issues had to do with a higher level of strategic intervention. This, Minister Harmon noted, is being addressed with the expansion of the prisons’ capacity. Currently, works are ongoing to expand the Mazaruni Prison into a state-of-the art facility to accommodate an additional 400 inmates, while a new holding facility is also being constructed at Camp Street.