An inmate who posted images on social media site Facebook of himself with large quantities of marijuana inside the Camp Street Prison, in Georgetown, said contraband, including drugs and weapons, are nothing new to the prison.
The inmate, 27-year-old Collis Collison on Thursday told a three-member Commission of Inquiry (CoI) probing the May 3, 2016 riot – which left 17 inmates dead and several other injured – that apart from drugs, inmates have improvised weapons, scissors and razor blades.
Inmate Collis Collison
Collison is one of several inmates who have been maintaining active Facebook profiles and make daily posts. On several occasions in the past, prison authorities seized large quantities of marijuana and weapons.
At least on one occasion, an attempt was made to smuggle a gun into the penitentiary.
Meanwhile, Collison told the Commission that when the fires started on March 2, he queried with the agitators, but was told to keep out since it does not concern him.
“Remember sir, the prisoners words to me earlier on was nothing ain’t concerning me… I can’t talk against 50 or something man. So I hold my corner and block my face,” the repeat offender said under cross-examination by Attorney Selwyn Pieters, who is representing the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service.
On March 2, nine fires were lit and according to Collison, there was total chaos on that day as inmates rushed to secure their possessions.
“People all over the place running up and down… there was water all over the place, people trying to secure their food and these kinds of things,” he recalled.
On March 3, a deadly fire was set in the Capital A block of the prison which claimed the lives of 17 inmates, while injuring several others.
Speaking specifically about the deadly riot on March 3, Collison stated that he was assaulted and dragged by prison officials after he exited the burning Capital A Dormitory.
“Some officers shackling me feet, some shackling me arm and he cuffing me in my face…They hold me by the chain for the foot cuff and the hand cuff and they pick me up and run with me… then they drag me, ” he said, while being led by Commission Counsel Excellence Dazzle.
He presumed that other inmates who stayed in the engulfed building may have done so because they were scared they would have received similar treatment to which he was subjected to.
“I wouldn’t be able to say why they run back in but I would suggest that is fear,” he said. Some other prisoners who testified before the Commission have claimed they were locked inside the burning building by prison officials, while others said wardens made unsuccessful attempts to open the door to the burning building.
Several other prisoners have already testified before the three-member Commission established at the behest of President David Granger to probe the deadly prison riot.
The prison was rioted over a raid on the facility by Joint Services, during which a number of illegal items, including cellular phone and drugs were seized.