June 10, 2016 By Memunatu Bangura from Bonthe
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Major Ishmeal Sengu Koroma, last Friday visited the Mattru Jong Correctional centre in Bonthe district.
Major Koroma said his ministry has responsibility to supervise, manage, and control of the Sierra Leone Police, Prisons Department, National Fire Force, Immigration Department, National Registration Secretariat, the Coroner’s office, and Fire Arms Protection and Safety Control.
He explained that the purpose of his visit was to demonstrate government’s concern for citizens even while in incarceration and to discuss issues affecting officers and inmates at the correctional Centre.
The deputy minister expressed dissatisfaction that too many young people continue to go to prison, adding that such was evidence of high rate of lawlessness among youth.
Major Koroma pleaded with inmates to be sober-minded, law-abiding, change their attitude and do what was right for the development of the country and their individual development, as they should be useful citizens in society.
“You should be sober, instrumental and exhibit the skills you have acquired after leaving the prison,” he implored.
He suggested that government look into ‘recidivism’, which he said was one of the fundamental concepts in criminal justice. “It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behaviour, often after he or she receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime,” he said.
The Manager of the Mattru Jong Correctional Centre revealed there were 48 male inmates; 10 convicts, 29 short goal cases, one trail case and eight remand cases, adding that the centre has three male cells and one female cell.
John Nabie Pessima said inmates are thought adult education classes, engage in agricultural, livelihood, self-reliance and empowerment activities.
“We have cassava farm and three bushels of groundnut farm. We produce cassava, garri and other produces which we eat and sometimes sell to raise revenue for the government,” he told the deputy minister and his entourage.
Highlighting challenges at the centre, Pessima stated that during the dry season, the only water well at the centre dries up and that prison guards accompany prisoners to fetch water.
Nurse in-charge of the centre, Randolph Doherty, said he could not care of inmates who with critical infections because drugs are often not available on time.
Nurse Doherty further explained that no medical provision is made for prison officers at the centre, hence they use those supplied for inmates.
He said that because Mattru Jong does not have a government hospital, inmates that are critical ill are referred to Bo or Freetown for medical treatment.
He pleaded with government to provide essential drugs for inmates, prison officers and other staff at the correctional centre.