Stakeholders advocate community service to decongest prisons

By Sunmola Olowookere
In a bid to decongest the prisons, major stakeholders in the judiciary sector have begun to make case for non custodial sentencing for accused persons by the courts.

Making this submission was the Ondo state Chief Judge, Justice Olutoyin Akeredolu in an exclusive interview with The Hope newspapers.

According to wikkipedia, non-custodial sentence also known as community sentence or alternative sentencing is a collective name in criminal justice for all the different ways in which courts can punish a defendant who has been convicted of committing an offence, other than through serving a jail or prison term) or capital punishment (death).

Akeredolu who expressed that the situation of the prisons was giving her some measure of concern disclosed that some of the prison facilities in the state are overcrowded and congested.

She then advocated for non-custodial sentences with the claims that there is room going by the Administration of Criminal Justice law (ACJL), for non custodial sentences.

She however regretted that the style of custodial sentencing was the most common, which was  supported by the criminal code.

She said that it is necessary for stakeholders in the judiciary sector to bring together the two laws so that judged can pronounce sentences that will help to decongest the prisons.

“I have performed two prison visits, I have been able to release some inmates during those visits. I know it can be better. Now we are putting a few things in place to ensure that the prisons are decongested.” She said.

She also talked about the halfway house; building where freed inmates stayed for rehabilitation before they joined the society and expressed that the judiciary is working assiduously to make the facility operational.

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Her words “We need to be honest with ourselves, it is not everyone who is remanded at the prisons awaiting trials is good material for the society.

“But because of one hitch or the other, they have not been tried, the law favours them that they should not be there for an unduely prolonged time. But when they return to the society, many of them go back to crime”.

She expressed the belief that any society that is insecure will be one that will be challenged greatly and that any investor coming into a country will first think of security; not only of properties or investments but of lives.

She stated that the judiciary is working hard to ensure that the funds approved by the governor to assist the judiciary to rehabilitate the structure given by the government for the halfway house is released.

“Many months back, the governor approved money for the rehabilitation but up till today, it has not been released.

I also know of habitation of hope for the juvenile here in Akure. I have rubbed minds with them and I know that they too need financial assistance.

“They picked street children, take them in, feed, clothe and educate them. They need support so that their work can be more impactful.”

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