The Shield of Gold Foundation has urged governments at all levels to provide welfare scheme and educational facilities for prison inmates. Its executive director, Mrs. Victoria Dike, made the appeal at the fourth anniversary of the foundation and her birthday celebrated with Kirikiri Prisons inmates, Apapa, Lagos.
She expressed dismay at the deplorable condition of lecture halls, the state of restrooms and access to qualitative health:
“The inmates stayed in dilapidated cell to study. It is not conducive for learning. Education is the key in achieving reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners.”
She explained that incarceration alone did not solve any problem; rather, it made prisons inmate worse than they were before imprisonment. She said with proper education, inmates would be properly reformed and rehabilitated to enable them integrate well into the society whenever they left the prison.
She said due to the call of rescue God gave to her she has been able to secure the release of some persons for free through it foundation. A lot of them were serving jail terms while they awaited trials, some of them were innocent but storms of life brought them here. She decided to be the voice of these ones who do not have the
means to secure a lawyer.
She faulted the judicial process whereby too many cases are given to a particular judge: “Police contribute negatively to the increasing number of the inmates. Inmates should take advantage of prison education by enrolling for NECO and NOUN programmes so they could adapt easily into the society after serving their sentences.
“Lack of funds, poor and inadequate lecture materials and halls are some of the major challenges they face in prison for the agency to effectively discharge its services to inmates. Accelerated efforts geared towards prison decongestion are necessary because of the high number of inmates awaiting trial.
“We offer empowerment programmes to the inmates on a regular basis considering most of them are released into the society without visible means of livelihood, which sometimes leads to such individuals committing crime again and recycling to custody.”
Dike stated that in prison they have got the best skills and it was only an opportunity for the inmates to correct past mistakes and be good ambassadors of the society: “All over the world, prisons are established to serve as rehabilitation and reformatory institutions with the ultimate goal of re-orientating and reforming inmates, so that they could come out as useful members of society.
“This institution was established to support criminal justice system in which criminal offences are confined pending the final conviction decision is taken to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused person.”
One of the freed inmates from Ikoyi Prisons said: “Government needs to do more to monitor the cases that bring people to prisons.” Another one said the foundation’s gesture guaranteed his freedom without him paying a penny for legal representation. He thanked God for helping him:
“Government and other organizations need to look into this. A lot of people are here today for very little things or something they know nothing about. I might have been lucky but others may not be.
“Prisons are public institutions established by government for the rehabilitation and reformation of individual’s offenders who are at breach of the law. Prison is viewed as a physical structure within a specific geographical location which affords a unique kind of social environment that is different from the larger society where people live according to specialised conditions.”