In light of the recent jail breakouts, fights among inmates and other disturbances occurring in various prisons throughout the country, a new structure has been proposed to alleviate the burdens of the Guyana Prison Service (GPS).Director of Prisons Gladwyn SamuelsDirector of Prisons, Gladwyn Samuels in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times on Sunday stated that this new proposal will address staff requirement that is much needed.He explained that all of the prisons in Guyana are quite old and some were never built to house prisoners but he is optimistic that with the new proposal, things will get better.“All of that is being looked at. There is a new structure that is proposed…we will be seeking to meet that staffing requirement but as it is right now our staff requirement is 6 to 1. Our staffing requirement is not filled.”According to Samuels, the GPS has been appealing to the public for more persons to join the prison system. He pointed out that the numbers are not where they should be but was happy to announce that another batch of 32 prison officers is expected to be inducted into the system soon.With regard to attempts by prisoners to escape from the lockups, Samuels stated that due to the prisons being old and in dire need of repairs and upgrading, such acts have been easier to execute since these attempts are coupled with the fact that there is limited staffing.But such cases are expected to be minimal once the necessary works are completed at each prison, he said. “New Amsterdam prison is old and that is why it is slated in the budget to be rebuilt this year. Also, that is why Mazaruni is being rebuilt.”However, Phase One of the massive expansion of the Mazaruni Prison is set to be completed by October of this year. This was disclosed by Iain Peebles, Project Manager of the Trinidadian firm Kee-Chanona that has joint responsibility for the project alongside the Guyanese company, Nabi Construction Incorporated.Earlier this month, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan conducted a site visit to assess works completed so far and was utterly impressed at the development.The $4 billion expansion will hold 400 prisoners to help with the overcrowding at the other prisons across the country. Peebles said with the construction of the first floor completed, Phase One is about 40 per cent done.Phase Two of the project commenced about a month ago with foundation works being carried out.Peebles added that everything is going as planned and that there is no need for any variation to the project. A road will also be constructed to link the two buildings when completed.Overcrowded prisons in and outside of Guyana is a cause for widespread worry and concern. In fact, it is one of the main contributing factors in the development of mental health illnesses in prisoners. Congested holding facilities often lead to insanitary conditions and are breeding grounds for violent acts. In addition to this, prison workers are placed at a greater risk for potential violence by prisoners in conditions such as these.