KALUNGA MUSONDA, Kabwe
SOME inmates in various prisons are today serving jail sentences because of drug-related offences.
However, despite being incarcerated, some inmates continue to abuse drugs in prison.
Drug trafficking is no doubt a contributing factor to some social ills in our society, such as aggravated robbery and defilement.
And a number of fatal road accidents have been due to drug abuse.
The growing trend in substance abuse in prisons by inmates is life-threatening for both inmates and the prisonsâ€™ authority.
Substance abuse by inmates in prisons conflicts the core values of a prison as a reformatory institution. It also undermines the ultimate principle of being a correctional institution.
Drug abuse by inmates has eroded public confidence in ex-convicts once reintegrated into society after serving their jail sentence. Society generally has been reluctant to embrace ex-convicts because of the reports on substance abuse in prisons by inmates.
During the commemoration of this yearâ€™s World Anti-Drugs Day in Kabwe, Central Province, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) regional commander, Gilbert Sinyani, bemoaned the growing trend of smuggling illegal drugs into prisons by inmates.
â€œThe adverse effects of psychotropic or drug abuse on both the physical and social wellbeing of individuals both in communities and here in prison cannot be overemphasised.â€
Mr Sinyani challenged inmates who are abusing drugs to reflect and ask themselves on what theyâ€™re doing about it.
â€œWe cannot allow drugs to destroy our identity; as individuals we should remain steadfast in combating drug trafficking in our communities. Life without drugs is possible and attainable,â€ Sinyani emphasised.
World Anti-Drug Day falls on June 26. And in an effort to sensitise society on the dangers of abusing drugs, the event is commemorated every year.
And this year the event was observed under the theme, â€˜Letâ€™s develop our lives, our communities and identity without drugsâ€™.
â€œAs DEC we believe that eliminating drugs in prisons is a crucial aspect of ensuring that order and safety is maintained.
â€œBut perhaps more importantly, eliminating the problem ensures that inmates abstain from drugs during the time they serve their sentences,â€ he said.
Central Province permanent secretary Edwidge Mutale said production of and trafficking in drugs are costly to the country because colossal sums of money are spent to fight the vices.
Ms Mutale who was represented by assistant secretary Abigail Malukutila said drug trafficking, drug abuse and money laundering have devastating effects on the social economic development and internal security.
â€œThese same illegal activities are a factor in the derailment of Government efforts for poverty reduction and good governance.
â€œThis silent terrorism of drug abuse destroys mankind hence it is better to stay away from drugs at all times,â€ she said.
Mr Sinyani said the DEC offers free counselling and rehabilitation on an out-patient basis through the Education and Counselling Department (ECD).
He appealed to the inmates to join hands with DEC in fighting drug trafficking, abuse and money laundering.
â€œThe commission cannot succeed in eliminating these vices alone as it needs everyoneâ€™s support,â€ he said.
Ms Mutale called for the intensification of the fight against substance abuse, money laundering and drug trafficking.
She also commended DEC for its efforts to rid Central Province of drug trafficking, abuse and money laundering.
And Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison officer in charge Hastings Chilombe said the support and encouragement to the inmates on the importance of a drug-free society are important.
Mr Chilombe said some inmates are in prison because of drugs, and joining hands with them to fight drug abuse will help them reform in one way or the other.
KALUNGA MUSONDA, Kabwe