New Telegraph

Prison Reforms: NGOs Seek Implementation Of Non-Custodial Service

Two Abuja-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Legend Golden Care Foundation (LGCF) and Hope Behind Bars Africa want immediate implementation of the non-custodial system in Nigeria’s Correctional Service.

The group under the joint initiative, Accelerating Justice Reform in Nigeria (AJURN), last week, launched a policy brief on the strengthening and implementation of non-custodial measures in the nation’s Correctional System.

Titled, “Review And Analysis Of The Non-Custodial System In Nigeria,” the policy brief sets out institutional and collaborative strategies for the effective implementation of non-custodial measures as stipulated in the Nigerian Correctional Service Act of 2019.

Executive Director, of Legend Golden Care Foundation, Mrs. Kanayo Olisa-Metuh, in her speech at the occasion, lamented that the custodial measure as presently obtainable in the nation’s Correctional Service system does not adequately promote correction, rehabilitation, and restoration of inmates.

Olisa-Metuh who agreed that custodial measures are necessary in some cases, however, stated that they are counter-productive “because locking up people who have committed minor offenses with convicted felons has sometimes led them to a life of crime.

“I believe that at the core of the issues that bedevil our criminal justice system is the fact that our system is punitive as opposed to restorative. If we want to be honest, the custodial measures as presently constituted are not fit for purpose.

“So many people are locked up in correctional facilities that have no business being there. Besides the pressure it puts on our resources, no citizens of Nigeria should be treated as cannon fodder.”

Executive Director of Hope Behind Bars Africa Mrs. Funke Adeoye, on her part, stated that the introduction of the non-custodial service into Nigeria’s legal system is fundamental for the needed reforms in the nation’s Correctional institution and criminal justice.

Mrs. Adeoye called for capacity building and strengthening of criminal justice institutions in the country, particularly the police, the judiciary, and correctional officers assigned to the non-custodial service.

She commended the amendment of the Constitution that transfers Correction Facilities from Exclusive to the Concurrent list, noting that “there are more state offenders than federal offenders in our custodial centers.

“States need to find the right model for the implementation of state corrections and factor in the implementation of non-custodial service into their system as this will be more cost-effective and reformatory for the state.

“The buy-in of the private sector and the third sector is also required for the implementation of the non-custodial service. CSOs can make use of the Policy Brief launched during the Stakeholders Dialogue as a tool for advocacy to get the government to make this a front-burner issue.”

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