By Emmanuel Oluwadola
The Nigerian Correctional Service in Ondo State has shed light on how the service is rehabilitating inmates.
In an interview with The Hope, the Controller of Corrections, Ondo State Command, Jude Agboje said the need to align with global standards led to the shift from the term ‘Nigerian Prison Service’ to the ‘Nigerian Correctional Service’ following the 2019 Act approved by the Federal Government.
He noted that the change aimed to underscore the service’s focus on reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration (3 Rs) of inmates.
The Controller further explained that the new approach involves non-custodial duties, seeking alternatives to imprisonment for certain offences to reduce congestion within the correctional centres.
He stressed the importance of a softer approach to reform hard individuals, adding that inmates must see themselves as being in safe custody rather than incarceration.
“If these three Rs are our core roles, there is every need to make the name and place to reflect them. You cannot use tough things to treat tough people. You must use soft things to treat hard people so that they will be softer.
“Even inmates are relaxed with the changed name. Because now, you will tell them you are not in the prison physiologically, but you are in a Custodial Center,” he pointed.
Speaking on the positive impact of these changes, Agboje noted that the correctional centres are now environmental-friendly and more conducive for inmates, adding that programmes focusing on vocational training, education and rehabilitation including initiatives in collaboration with the National Open University, NECO, and WAEC, have been implemented.
Inmates are encouraged to acquire skills in areas such as carpentry and other vocational programmes, preparing them for a better future upon release.
He called on NGOs, religious bodies and individuals to contribute to the rehabilitation process, stating that empowering inmates was vital to prevent them from reverting to their previous ways after release.
Agboje advocated for a respectful approach in addressing and relating to former inmates, urging society to avoid stigmatizing them as ‘ex-convicts’.
He emphasized that these individuals should be given opportunities for employment and support in reintegrating them into the society.
In terms of financing and logistics, he acknowledged government’s efforts in supporting the service, stressing that amidst existing challenges, government has continued to invest in improving the correctional facilities and services.
He, however, reiterated the role of the service as a key security agency responsible for transforming the lives of inmates and facilitating their successful reintegration into the society.