Two prisoners were Saturday afternoon shot dead and five others were injured during an apparent effort to escape from the Lusignan Prison, East Coast Demerara, Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels said.
“After the officers left the main compound, the situation rapidly deteriorated into mass disorder with inmates rushing the main gate in a bid to break same. In response to situation, and in a bid to contain same, ranks posted within the towers discharged several shots in the general direction of the gate which resulted in the injury of seven inmates and restoration of relative calm to the situation,” he said.
Those dead are Earl Graham, age 51 who was sentenced to three months imprisonment for malicious wounding, assault and resisting arrest and Winston Herbert, age 21 who was in custody for rape.
Mr. Samuels said following the return to order, the injured prisoners were extracted and initially attended to by medical personnel on the ground, after which two were sent for further treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
Three inmates continued to be attended to at the Lusignan facility while two were pronounced dead, he said.
The unrest began at 7:30 AM when the prisoners refused breakfast and continued at 12:30 PM when they refused lunch and intensified their demand to see Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn.
After Home Affairs Minister Benn and Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony arrived and held discussions with nominated representatives from Holding Bay 2, they were “loudly cheered and welcomed on entering the facility.”
“During this engagement all the prisoners appeared calm and those being engaged appeared receptive,” Mr. Samuels said.
Concerns surrounding extensive timelines between court hearings and remand, among other issues, were raised with the Ministers who committed to address those within their scope but also informed the prisoners that the ability to address the issues within the remit of the courts was outside their authority but would be brought to the attention of those with those responsibilities. The issue of overcrowding and the risk of exposure to the COVID 19 pandemic, due to recent positive test returns amongst inmates, were also raised.
The Prisons Director, however, indicated that the situation deteriorated when the Ministers met with inmates of Holding Bay 1 . He said a number prisoners from Bays 2, 3 and 4 “became aggressive and began throwing missiles which caused the Ministers to end engagement and exit the confines of the compound.”
“After the Ministers exited the main gate, the situation rapidly degenerated and became riotous with some prisoners scaling the inner fence of the Holding Bay, thus entering the restricted area, and launching attacks on the prison officers within the compound who had to flee to safety,” the Prisons Director said.