Guyana’s president pardons imprisoned moms for Christmas

Eleven women, many of whom were convicted for non-violent crimes, have been pardoned by President David Granger and are scheduled to be released from prison on Monday. Granger, in his weekly television program, explained that he hopes to make it a tradition to pardon young women for Christmas and young men for Guyana’s Independence. He said special attention is to be given to mothers.

“My emphasis is on women, women who are mothers and also parents of young children. I want them to be home for Christmas.”

The President argued that second chances were crucial, as the longer a person remains in prison, the more likely they will become a repeated offender. However, he warned that pardoned persons who end up in jail would have to stay behind bars until the end of their sentences.

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“They would make themselves ineligible in my eyes for release again,” said Granger. “I am not a sort of perpetual releaser. If given an opportunity and they waste the opportunity, then they will serve the time.”

Granger, who in the past has been criticized for pardoning persons, said those pardoned will not have their criminal record erased. He said a pardon is granted on the advice from the Ministry of Public Security and so his decision is “not arbitrary.” The President said plans are also in the making to provide rehabilitation services for pardoned prisoners.

“I do feel that if a person remains in jail too long, he or she will become a habitual or repetitive offender whereas if he was given a chance to make a turnaround in his life and follow a good career, a useful career,” he said.