Guyana’s President David Granger pardoned five women from the New Amsterdam Prison just in time for Christmas.
The women released on Christmas Day ranged in age from 24 to 54 and had served part of their sentences for non-violent offences, ranging from larceny and fraud to giving false oath.
President Granger also ordered the release of eight students from the New Opportunity Corps (NOC), a juvenile correctional facility.
The release of the students came on the heels of a visit by President Granger earlier this year, when he said he had started a process to look at the early release of girls and boys housed at the NOC at Onderneeming in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region.
The Head of State had visited the facility to speak with the 85 young people, the majority of whom have been committed to the institution for wandering. He said that as part as an overall plan to ensure improvements to the physical conditions and the programmes offered, Government would in the short term be setting up criteria and a system to ensure that regular early release is an option for those who qualify.
President Granger said he remains focused on education and youth empowerment and strongly believes that children are better off in educational institutions rather than in incarceration or detention.
“Going to school is important for me and staying in school is important for me and it is important for you too, because in whatever you do, you must be able to read, write, spell and count…You must be literate. We cannot build a country with illiterate persons and that is why I want all of you to take your education seriously. It is my vision that you must get the best possible preparation for when you are ready to take over this country,” Granger told the children.