Editor's Comment

Prisoners deserve humane conditions

THE need to match infrastructure with increasing demand for the prisons cannot be over-emphasised.
Most prisons in the country were constructed more than fifty years ago and they have now become too small to accommodate the growing number of inmates.
As the population has grown, so has the number of offenders. This has resulted in most prisons being overcrowded.
It is in realisation of this need that Government has embarked on building more prisons to match with the times.
At the same time, the increasing number of prison facilities brings about the need to have more staff to man the facilities.
Currently, most prisons are understaffed and the need to increase staff becomes imperative in view of the increasing infrastructure.
It is therefore gratifying that Government has in the last five years recruited over 1,000 prison officers to strengthen the rehabilitation of inmates.
Prison reforms undertaken by Government include viewing prisons as correctional centres instead of punishment centres.
This approach calls for the need to have highly trained staff who will be able to actualise Government’s ideals.
The correctional approach entails that prisoners get to a point where they realise their wrongdoing and they resolve not go back to their old ways.
In other words, measures are put in place to help prisoners view crime as an evil that should not be tolerated not in a cruel but humane way.
Officers who handle the prisoners need to be equipped with new skills to enable them handle prisoners in line with the new approach.
Officiating at a pass out of recruits at Bothwell Imakando Correctional Staff College in Kabwe during the week, Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila said the recruitment of prison officers was part of Government’s commitment to improving services in prisons.
Furthermore, Government intends to add 3,500 bed spaces for prisoners through three modern prison projects under construction in Mongu and Mwembeshi.
Day in and day out, inmates complain of overcrowding in the prisons and we want to commend Government for taking this step to make their stay better.
Overcrowding is responsible for the fast spread of diseases like TB and other infections in the prisons, leading to the spending of more money to ward off such attacks.
The fact that one is in prison is punishment enough and their stay should not be worsened by the overcrowding. As long as one still has breath, not all of their rights have been taken away.
The new officers have a task to shape the destiny of prisoners and we want them to view their duty in this way.
The have task to make prisoners have a positive view of life so that after they leave the confines of prison, they will make better contributions to their communities.
This means therefore that prison officers should be men and women of integrity and those who can motivate prisoners to be better citizens once they have served their sentences.
The fact that prison officers have authority over the prisoners should not give them the power to exploit the poor prisoners and always keep them at their mercy.
Like it was said of the recruits at their pass out that they were able to demonstrate their physical skill and talent in passing through the intensive programmes . They were also able to provide care, custody, control and human treatment of inmates.
We also appeal to Government to continue making the life of inmates better by building more and bigger prisons.
To help ease some of these projects, inmates can help generate income for prisons through the various projects like poultry, carpentry and gardening, on a larger scale.
While these activities impart them with skills, they also help to correct the wrong for which they are in prison.

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