88% inmates are youth – Prison boss

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October 22, 2018

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services has revealed to members of the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs that 88 percent of the 4,445 inmates locked up in prisons across the country are youth.

Sanpha Bilo Kamara said inmates were being trained in tailoring, carpentry, hairdressing, and masonry, among several other skills, with the view to making their lives meaningful after serving their jail terms.

Mr. Kamara said the correctional centre has also trained counsellors and social workers to help repatriate inmates into society.

He explained that the existing infrastructures neither contain  all prisoners nor meet international standards, hence overcrowding was visible in the centres.

“There is severe overcrowding in correctional centres in Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema. Our problem now is funding; we lack funds to construct a centre. The facilities are not enough. Inadequate budgetary allocation has led to huge debts owed to contractors and service providers,” he said.

The director of correctional services called on committee members to help address numerous challenges his institution was grappling with.

Responding, chairman of the committee, Hon. Alusine Kanneh assured the director that their challenges would be looked into, especially in the area of upgrading the centres to meet  international standards.

Unlike Sierra Leonean inmates, Hon. Kanneh observed that Kenyan prison inmates are very skillful to the extent that they are contracted to decorate government offices.

Hon. Kanneh decried the deplorable conditions of correctional centres across the country, adding that majority of them do not have vocational training equipment.