The Ministry of Internal Affairs has blamed the judiciary for overcrowded Correctional Centers due to delay in trials or indictment of suspects or accused persons.
The Minister, Joseph B. Dauda popularly known as JBD (Jam Body for Development) and his Permanent Secretary Augustine Sahr Sheku who have recently visited all the correctional centers in all the regions in the country were informed by inmates of their overcrowded cells, but told the visiting officials that in spite of that, they were treated well by the correctional officers, a development the minister expressed his personal delight for.
- B. Dauda told the inmates that the government through his ministry is working very hard to improve not only their conditions but the general improvement of these centers. He said their visit was on two folds; firstly, to have first-hand information on the operations of the centers especially the relationship between them and the correctional officers and secondly to inform them about the new Correctional Act of 2014 for the transformation of Prison to Correction Service system. “These centers as the name implies are not meant to condemn people but have them reformed as good citizens at the end of their terms,” he insists.
“As a lawyer myself, I know that one of the very many reasons why the cells are over crowded is the delay to indict or try the accused persons,” the minister said and sympathized with some of them who have spent very long time in these centers for petty or minor crimes.
The minister assured them that the new correctional act has to correct all the old prison systems among other things to move away from the normal or harsh punishment for inmates to providing them with skills training so that at the end of their terms, they would reintegrate into their various communities as meaningful citizens, and that they would also be benefiting from government contracts.
J B. Dauda told the inmates that in spite of their incarceration for respective crimes they have committed, they are still regarded as Sierra Leoneans and that is why the government is working to improve the condition of these centers, but hasten to inform them that “you are not expected to return here again for that.”
The minister called for the continued cordial relationship between the correctional officers and the inmates after the latter among thunderous applauds expressed their gratitude to him and the government for their efforts to improve their welfare. They described the ministry’s move as “novelty” the first of its kind in the country’s history for government minister to take such bold steps to visit correctional centers.