Camp Street prison destroyed during riot

A massive prison riot that occurred in Guyana's capital this past weekend could have serious ramifications on the country's overall security situation, while also underscoring well-known flaws with the region's prison systems. 

On July 9, inmates set the Camp Street prison in Georgetown ablaze in an orchestrated jail break that resulted in the destruction of the entire facility and left two prisoners wounded, one police officer dead, and three inmates on the run, reported Caribbean360.

While the remainder of the prison's 1,000 inmates were temporarily evacuated to the Lusignan Prison on the outskirts of the city, authorities are still attempting to figure out a permanent housing solution for the prisoners. 

According to Public Security Minister Khemjar Ramjattan, the government has secured the transfer of only 300 inmates to other prisons, with the remaining 700 yet to be permanently accommodated.

"[We] have a big crisis on our hands," he said.

To make security matters worse, the prison fire resulted in the destruction of thousands of conviction records and warrants, which prisons are required to be in possession of under Guyana law in order to maintain inmates in custody, as reported by the Guyana Guardian

As a result -- and given the nonexistence of fingerprints, photographic data, or other evidence to fairly determine who was or was not convicted -- the government may be forced to release as many as 500 convicts. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The destructive riot in Guyana's Camp Street prison serves as an illustrative example of how prison systems in the Caribbean are just as susceptible to the systemic infrastructure and overcrowding problems that plague those in the rest of the region.  

Authorities in Guyana were previously aware of the security flaws associated with this prison. Just last year, a similar fiery prison riot there left 17 inmates dead and at least five injured. 

SEE ALSO: The Prison Dilemma in the Americas

At the time, the prison was already overcrowded, housing approximately 984 inmates in a facility made for 600. Now that the country's largest prison has been destroyed, overcrowding in the rest of the country's prisons is likely to be exacerbated, as authorities scramble to find locations to house the displaced inmates. 

Moreover, if the government is, in fact, forced to release a large number of the inmates, the influx of convicts to society is likely to present yet another security headache for a country that has shown a lack of capacity in fighting organized crime on its own and that has previously been referred to as a "narco-state."

The latest crime and safety report by the US State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council refers to Guyana as a "critical threat location for crime."

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs.