The Georgetown Prison Fire – By Rickford Burke

Barbados Underground

Rickford Burke, President, Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

 A failure and opportunity forgood governance through public accountability

Last week swift public accountability reinforced good governance in Trinidad & Tobago. Ms. Marlene McDonald was sworn in as Minister of Public Utilities on June 30. Three days later Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley fired her for countenancing a reputed member of the criminal underworld to attend her swearing in ceremony. Ms. McDonald introduced the gentleman, who is on the radar of security forces, to President Anthony Carmona with whom they were photographed. This public outrage forced the Prime Minister to hold his Minister accountable. Her firing restored public confidence in the government. Accountability is the essence of good governance. Good governance is the foundation of a democratic society.

In March 2016, inmates at the Georgetown Prison, Guyana’s main jail, rioted and burnt down part of the facility. 17 inmates…

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  • Gigi  On 07/15/2017 at 11:15 am

    “Opposition leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has issued sanctimonious condemnations of the government’s handling of the matter. However, his party, the PPP, was in government for 23 years. He was President of Guyana for 12 years; from 1999 – 2011. What did he do to solve this problem? In fact he ostensibly used a previous a jail break to manufacture a national security crisis to blame his political opposition and slaughter hundreds of innocent, young black men.”

    “In fact he ostensibly used a previous a jail break to manufacture a national security crisis to blame his political opposition and slaughter hundreds of innocent, young black men.”

    This piece needed reposting to expose the specious bile spewing forth from this monstrous talking head. Wikileaks cables totally debunk your claim. Your likeminded brood will no doubt believe your crap after all you savage monsters are really just cute and fluffy kittens. LOL, not everyone was born with your demented mind, but of course your demented mind doesn’t allow you to fathom this!!!

    Over at the SN, other talking heads attention seekers of the same variety are writing letters blaming poverty and lamenting why rich people children aren’t in jail bla bla bla. Well, here is a link to an interesting study done on violent crime, drug abuse and poverty. Hope ya’ll find someone to read and explain it to you. What the study found was that although poverty is a factor, when that factor was removed, unobserved familial risk – i.e., traits, antisocial behavior, delinquency, parent-child relationship, family dissolution, parental criminality – was also a factor.

    Childhood family income, adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse:
    quasi-experimental total population study

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/17/2017 at 1:47 am

    The Wealthy ‘make mistakes’, The Poor Go To Jail

    Chris Arnade | The Guardian UK

    I left my Wall Street trader job and began photographing drug addicts in NYC. These two worlds have entirely different rules

    I knew him as “Mr one-glove”. The origins of his nickname were cloudy, but had to do with his legendary stinginess. He had just lost his company close to $1bn betting on mortgages.

    That company, facing massive losses from him and other traders, had only staved off bankruptcy because of the grace of the government.

    It was late in 2008 and Mr one-glove had joined us at a bar, a group of disparate Wall Street traders united in an attempt to drink away a bad year. Near the end of the night, Mr one-glove leaned into the table of beers, and asked,

    Do you think we will get paid well this year?

    Mr one-glove was not somebody who trafficked in irony. Despite the massive loss, despite his company being bailed out, Mr one-glove didn’t get fired, nor did he lose any of his wealth. No, Mr one-glove got paid well. Not by his standards, since he did not get a year-end bonus, just his salary of around $300,000. Mr one-glove was unhappy with that.

    Nearly five years later, my life was very different. I left my Wall Street job to start a photo project documenting the lives of addicts in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, New York City’s poorest neighborhood.

    A year ago I sat with one my new friends, Takeesha, at a small table in a visiting room in Rikers Island jail. Takeesha was in Rikers for possession of a needle and for intent to sell. Or maybe this time it was for prostitution. Takeesha is often in Rikers. Near the end of our conversation, Takeesha leaned into the table and asked,

    Do you think I will get out this year?

    Takeesha did not end up getting out; she spent another two months, held a total of four months, for a variety of charges that almost all ended up being dropped.

    Takeesha was raped at 11-years-old, by a family member, and pimped by another family member at 13. She ran away at 15. She has worked the last 25 years as a prostitute in Hunts Point and is addicted to both heroin and crack. Her story is not different from many homeless addicts I have gotten to know: childhood trauma, often sexual abuse, followed by rejection by the family, followed by addiction, and then, almost always for the women, followed by prostitution.

    Mr one-glove is not that different from many whom I met on Wall Street over my 20-year career. He had upper middle class parents, was college educated, got an MBA, followed by a demanding high-paying job that became his identity.

    What have I learned from knowing both Mr one-glove and Takeesha? Here’s my one-line answer:

    When you’re wealthy you make mistakes. When you are poor you go to jail.

    Yes, it is like comparing apples and oranges. That is the point though. We have built two very different societies with two very different sets of values. Takeesha was born into a world with limited opportunities, one where the black market has filled the void.

    In her world transgressions are resolved via violence, not lawyers. The law as applied to her is simple and stark, with little wiggle room.

    Mr one-glove was born into a world with many options. The laws of his land are open for interpretation, and with the right lawyer one can navigate in the vast grey area and never do anything wrong. The rules are often written by and for Mr one-glove and his friends.

    No, Mr one-glove did not break any laws. Not explicitly, although in 2008, he helped to bankrupt a company that helped to almost bankrupt the global economy.

    Rather, he spent his adult life moving numbers around on spreadsheets and betting on other numbers. Over his entire career, he has probably lost more money than he made, with the hole from 2008 swallowing any prior profits.

    For that he has been very richly rewarded. Tens of millions of dollars rewarded.

    Takeesha has broken many laws, none open for interpretation. You use drugs (well, not prescription drugs), you go to jail. You sell your body for sex, you go to jail.

    You can paint a narrative where young Takeesha shakes off her rape at 11, shakes off being sold on the streets at 13, and rallies. She finds the right foster family, takes advantage of the social services offered, and graduates from high school or at least gets her GED equivalent, then goes to college and moves well beyond her past.

    Maybe she even ends up in banking, with her juvenile record forgiven. You can paint that story, but it’s a fairy tale.

    Mr one-glove would probably not approve of Takeesha. He felt everyone makes his own path in life, that raising his taxes to help the poor was encouraging a lifetime of sloth.

    To him, poverty was because of a lack of trying, a lack of working as hard as he had. Many successful professionals, who forget their benign youth, share that attitude.

    Poverty and addiction have a thousand mothers, none of them sloth. Surviving the streets and hustling for the next fix is some of the hardest work around.

    Takeesha would probably say about Mr one-glove what another addict said with admiration, when hearing about my Wall Street life: “You made tricky money in a tricky world.”

    Mr one-glove eventually left his company. He is still working somewhere in finance, putting together another portfolio of mortgages using borrowed money.

    Takeesha is still out on the streets, charging $50 for men to have sex with her. Or maybe she is in jail. I have to check weekly to see which it is.

    The Wealthy ‘make mistakes’, The Poor Go To Jail

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/17/2017 at 2:38 am

    Poor White Kids Are LESS LIKELY To Go To Prison Than Rich Black Kids

    Max Ehrenfreund | The Washington Post

    It’s a fact that people of color are worse off than white Americans in all kinds of ways, but there is little agreement on why.

    Some see those disparities as a consequence of racial discrimination in schools, the courts and the workplace, both in the past and present.

    Others argue that economic inequalities are really the cause, and that public policy should help the poor no matter their race or ethnicity.

    When it comes to affirmative action in college admissions, for example, many say that children from poor, white families should receive preferential treatment, as well.

    In some ways, though, discrimination against people of color is more complicated and fundamental than economic inequality. A stark new finding epitomizes that reality:


    “RACE TRUMPS CLASS, at least when it comes to incarceration,” said Darrick Hamilton of the New School, one of the researchers who produced the study.

    He and his colleagues, Khaing Zaw and William Darity of Duke University, examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a national study that began in 1979 and followed a group of young people into adulthood and middle age. The participants were asked about their assets and debts, and interviewers also noted their type of residence, including whether they were in a jail or prison.

    The researchers grouped participants in the survey by their race and their household wealth as of 1985 and then looked back through the data to see how many people in each group ultimately went to prison.

    Participants who were briefly locked up between interviews are not included in their calculations of the share who were eventually incarcerated.

    About 2.7 percent of the poorest white young people — those whose household wealth was in the poorest 10th of the distribution in 1985, when they were between 20 and 28 years old — ultimately went to prison.

    In the next 10th, 3.1 percent ultimately went to prison.

    The households of young white people in both of these groups had more debts than assets. In other words, their wealth was negative.

    All the same, their chances of being imprisoned were far less than those of black youth from much more affluent circumstances.

    About 10 percent of affluent black youths in 1985 would eventually go to prison.

    Only the very wealthiest black youth — those whose household wealth in 1985 exceeded $69,000 in 2012 dollars — had a better chance of avoiding prison than the poorest white youth.

    Among black young people in this group, 2.4 percent were incarcerated.

    What’s more, even young black people who follow the rules and are never incarcerated are less likely than similar white people to accumulate wealth as they get older.

    As of 2012, the median household wealth of black participants in the study who had never been incarcerated at some point in their lives was $16,200.

    Those who had been incarcerated had zero wealth at the median.

    Among white participants who had never been incarcerated, however, median household wealth was $192,000 by 2012.

    The median white participant who had been incarcerated reported wealth of $5,000.

    It could be that the white participants in the study still had other advantages over their black peers, even if they had been incarcerated.

    Perhaps they went to better schools, or lived in areas where it was easier to find work.

    At the same time, another reason for the disparity between black and white wealth could be that employers make negative inferences about black workers’ pasts, even those who have never been to prison.

    In 2001, for example, economist Harry Holzer and his colleagues found that employers who actually checked applicants’ criminal histories were much more likely to hire black men.

    Similarly, recent research shows that employers who are barred from checking credit histories are less likely to take on black workers.

    In a way, untangling economic and racial inequalities is a chicken-and-egg problem.

    In criminal justice, though, you can’t just explain away the disproportionate rates at which black youths end up in prison by pointing out that many people of color did not grow up with the same economic advantages as their white peers.

    RICH BLACK Kids are MORE LIKELY to go to Prison Than POOR WHITE Kids

  • ndtewarie  On 07/17/2017 at 8:30 am


    Lets get to the very real story
    And review our sorry history
    Firstly our leaders vied for Independence
    Its our right its to get rid of our hindrance
    Promising progress with very lofty idealism
    Then the Big Two accused us of Communism
    But got instead a lukewarm brand of Socialism
    For those were the hot days of Cold Wars’ ism
    We ended up with a big dose of corruption
    Racialism, bloodshed and sheer destruction
    The people run away from their beloved Guyana
    To England and the cold harsh North America
    Causing a huge brain drain leaving Guyana rudderless
    Various parties struggling but they too come up clueless
    The good ol’ days when rigged ballots rained
    And at the same time coffers were drained
    And as the other party jump and take over
    So did the people as some run for cover
    But a simple Guyanese people we are
    We don’t want to relive another Wismar
    But after 51 years we still have a chance
    But we’ve to stop this bias racial dance
    Sadly politicians would never change
    Its like telling a dog it has bad mange
    The two races have to come together
    Live again like sister and like brother
    We have to be Guyanese again not a black man
    Think like a Guyanese and not like a coolie man
    Be accepted as real down earth Guyanese
    You be Chinese, Amer-Indian or Portuguese
    Maybe our last chance to make it
    If hate don’t drive us out of our wit
    There are some things we have to eradicate
    Stop fighting one another and stop the hate
    Talk to one another stop deny we’re steeped in racialism
    Stop lying, face the fact we have far too much nepotism
    Govern for everyone bring back equality
    Drop the darn ‘e’ and focus on quality
    Let’s pray to the one Above
    For all we need is Love
    Listen people take heed
    For Love is all you need.

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