As Criminal Session closes…


1,596 inmates at Pademba Road

September 7, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

As the High Court of Sierra Leone closed its May 2015 criminal session last Friday, 4 September, Assistant Superintendent in the Sierra Leone Correctional Services, Jonathan Wilson, disclosed that the Pademba Road correctional centre which was constructed to accommodate 324 inmates is now congested, with over 1,596 inmates.

Wilson was speaking on oath before Justice Alusine Sesay of the Freetown High Court.

He said the total number of inmates in both the male and female correctional centres is 1,666, comprising 64 females and 1,596 male inmates. He said the figure includes some 382 inmates who are serving long jail terms, while 267 are serving short jail terms, adding that 235 persons are on remand and 635 are on trial.

He said the Pademba Road Correctional Centre was constructed with 144 cells, with capacity for 324 inmates (four inmates per cell), but they now put seven inmates in one cell because of overcrowding.

He said the male correctional centre houses 14 condemned inmates, while 15 are serving life imprisonment. The correctional centre also has 47 foreignnationals, he added.

Assistant Superintendent Wilson further told the court that the female correctional centre at the former Special Court detention centre on Jomo Kenyatta Road in Freetown was built for 21 inmates but now houses 64 female prisoners, eight of whom are serving long-term sentences, while 11 are serving short jail terms. He said 17 are on remand and 24 are at present standing trial, while three are serving life imprisonment.

He told the court that all inmates in correctional centres eat three daily meals a day and have access to pipe-borne water and indoor games, and access to watch news on television.

He said they also engage inmates in adult literacy programmes as well as vocational skills such as carpentry, art and craft, shoe-making, etc. Both facilities, he said, have a single doctor and 12 nurses, thus they refer critical cases to the Connaught Hospital and 34 Military Hospital at Wilberforce, respectively.

Assistant Superintendent Wilson averred that decongesting correctional centres would help significantly and that one way to go about it could be speedy trials and construction of new cells.

However, Justice Sesay retorted that speedy trials would not decongest the prisons because certain criminals are kept in prison for the security of the state, adding that even if trials are expedited if accused persons are found guilty they would have to find time in prison.

Meanwhile, the learned judge closed the May 2015 criminal session, which is due to resume on 15 September.