– PPDI, Prison Sentence Board also appointedGovernment has finally approved the appointment of a Juvenile Justice Committee, a necessary component of plans to integrate alternative sentencing and avoiding the criminalisation of youths.This announcement was made by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who was at the time holding a post-Cabinet press briefing on Friday. According to Harmon, the Committee was approved by Cabinet after a proposal from Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan.According to the Minister, the Committee will comprise of William Boston as Chairman and 11 other members. Harmon laid out the terms of reference of the Committee, which will include ensuring that the Juvenile Justice Act is implemented.“The objectives of the Committee are to support the implementation of juvenile justice legislation, especially on issues related to the creation and accreditation of diversionary programmes and to ensure compliance to the required standards set up in the child rights convention and its supporting guidelines.”The Juvenile Justice Bill was passed last year, repealing the 1931 Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act. An important part of the bill is that it abolishes offences like truancy and wandering.The draft bill was conceived in 2004 under the former Administration, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund. Last year, the Government had announced that it would establish juvenile courts throughout Guyana. It has been opined that having these specialised courts will ensure speedy disposal of sensitive cases.PPDIAlso being approved and gazetted was the Board of Directors of the Power Producers and Distributors Incorporated (PPDI). According to the gazetted notice, the PPDI Board will serve with effect from March 1, 2019, to February 28, 2021.Returning to head the company is Mark Bender as Chairman and Arron Fraser as Vice Chairman. In addition, its membership will include Stephen Fraser, Amanza Walton-Desir, Verlyn D E Klass, Paul Chan-A-Sue, the Permanent Secretary of the Public Infrastructure Ministry and representatives from the Parliamentary Opposition and Guyana Power and Light (GPL).GPL’s interconnected system is fed with power by the Power Producers and Distributors Inc (PPDI), which replaced Wärtsilä, a company from Finland, which for two decades maintained over a dozen engines for the utility company.PrisonAlso, the Guyana Prison Service Sentence Management Board was approved for a period of one year with effect from February 1, 2019. The Board is to be chaired by prominent educator and former University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) President Dr Melissa Ifill.Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels is also listed as a member, as well as Marielle Bristol, Sylvia Conway, Rabindra Chand, Mahendra Thakurdat, Stanley Boodie, John Fraser and Shireen Andrews as Secretary.As of January 2017, there were a total of 2043 inmates in Guyana’s five jails, although the largest one – the Camp Street Prison – was subsequently gutted in a fire. At the time, the Georgetown prison had 963 inmates, 521 of whom were on remand; Lusignan had 153, of which 32 were remanded, Mazaruni, 360, and Timehri, 130 inmates including 28 remand inmates.All of the aforementioned prisoners were male, while New Amsterdam had a male prison population of 352 and a female population of 85. 150 of those men and 31 women were on remand.When it comes to prisons, much reform is needed. In 2016, a fire raged through the Camp Street Prison and claimed the lives of 17 prisoners. Afterwards, a Commission of Inquiry, which cost the treasury some $13 million, was ordered by President David Granger.According to the report compiled by the Commissioners, a combination of being overcrowded, uncomfortable and unhygienic confinement are ideal conditions for epidemics, for gangs to prosper and to propagate discontent.Moreover, the CoI found that reducing numbers in prisons to manageable levels is the single most important priority for establishing safe, humane and purposeful prisons. In the wake of another fire the very next year, which gutted the wooden section of the Camp Street Prison, the need to reduce the prison population was further emphasised to the Government.