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Caribbean prisons: Blue seas, black holes

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The future of computing

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Caribbean prisons


Foul, crowded and dangerous, the region’s jails need reform

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“FREEDOM! We want freedom!” cried inmates of the Camp Street prison in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown. But in three days of unrest that began on March 2nd, 17 of them burnt to death. The rioting started after guards seized drugs and mobile phones from prisoners awaiting trial for violent crimes. The prisoners set fires; on March 3rd one flared out of control. Trouble continued the next day, with prisoners knocking down wooden cell-block walls and the authorities firing tear gas.
That highly public tragedy is the consequence of a hidden one. Of the 50 countries with the highest incarceration rates, 15 are, like Guyana, former British Caribbean colonies or current ones. High levels of violence are partly to blame. So are the criminalisation of cannabis use and harsh sentencing laws. Last November Guyana’s …