Prison Reforms & Rehabilitation

PRISONS REFORMS AND REHABILITATION PROGRAMME

There is insufficient knowledge about the African prison community, both in and out of correctional facilities. What is known is alarming and underscores the importance of acting rapidly to fill information gaps in order to better assess national situations, identify good practices and support more effective national policies, programs and service delivery. Occupancy rates reflect high levels of overcrowding. In Cameroon occupancy rates range around 300 per cent–345 per cent above planned levels. Overcrowding also translates into the mixing of prisoners across categories of those incarcerated (pre-trial detainees, convicts, juveniles, men and women). Available data shows very high numbers of pre-trial detainees, those awaiting sentencing or the outcome of appeals (percentage within the prison population) for most African countries, ranging between 50 and 70 per cent. Cameroon along with Mozambique and Madagascar are the countries with the highest number of such detainees at the level of 65%. The appalling physical conditions of African prisons, along with inadequate food and nutrition and almost non-existent health services, seriously exacerbate the prevalence of HIV and TB inside prisons. Poor food and nutrition, including low quality and scarcity of food for those incarcerated is also disquieting and becomes life-threatening.

An international agreement addressing prison conditions in Africa (Article 319 of the 1990 Kampala Declaration) allows prisons to form partnerships with organizations and NGOs like ICENECDEV and FAAFNET to provide rehabilitation services. These services encourage the successful reintegration of prisoners into society upon their release. ICENECDEV and FAAFNET initiated a pilot programme in Buea Central Prison to better the lives of detainees, in and out of prison, through gradual implementation of all two motives of the project and develop the human resource capacity within the prison service. Aimed at reducing recidivism and restoring agency to detainees the project covers human rights-based basic education, problem solving, hygiene, health, literacy, and management skills, and income-generating activities.
Detainees are stripped of their sense of agency and dignity in their own lives by poverty and want, then further marginalized and often rejected by their families and communities because of their confinement. After release, they often see no alternatives than to commit offenses that lead them back to prison.
Rehabilitation is intended to produce positive changes in offenders so they will stop committing crimes. Vocational programs train and certify offenders in trades to pursue upon their release. Academic programs provide formal adult, basic and secondary education courses.
This programme is addressing aspects of sustainability through fostering environmental stewardship and other workshops opportunities for offenders that may lead to a change in quality of life and a reduction in recidivism.

ICENECDEV and FAAFNET have implemented the following activities in the Buea Central Prison: Literacy classes, installation of 3,000 litres water tank, regional training workshop on human rights and improvement of detention conditions in the south west region, equipping the infirmary with drugs, building the capacity of the library of the National School of Penitentiary Administration (ENAP) ,donation of farming tools( fertilizers,seed,cutlaases, hoes, spraying cans )and vocational training ( tailoring,carpentry,barbing,farming,art and craft).