The role of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service is to rehabilitate inmates, but in recent years, the institution has been perceived as one that is meant to punish rather than to correct inmates for public life after serving their jail terms. However, the new administration is planning to give a facelift to the institution and change the perception the public has about the center.
Mr. Joseph Lamboi noted that the press briefing was to also wipe out people’s mistrust of the Correctional service, citing that since they assumed office 90 days ago, they are concentrating on improving the conditions of not only the inmates and the officers but also the facilities including the Officers’ Mess.
“We are doing all that we could given the logistical support we are getting. We need vehicles, more personnel, additional training among other urgent needs,”’ Mr. Lamboi said.
According to Lamboi they are also thinking of relocating the Bo Correctional Centre because of overcrowding as the area the facility currently stands is not conducive.
“Our Correctional headquarter in Freetown as you all know is nothing to write home about, and so we are thinking of constructing one as well as building a regional North-West headquarter in Port Loko District.
Mr. Lamboi also disclosed that they have already secured more than 90 hectares of land at Songo for the construction of a new male correctional service center.
Mr. Lamboi added that, since they assumed office they have established a Child Friendly Centre for children of female inmates, shops for inmates to purchase items like cold water and food in order to reduce trafficking of contraband into the center; a life skills training unit; establishment of a poultry and mechanized agriculture production, a barracks for officers and a hospital for inmates, staff and their dependants. He stated that they are also planning to expand all correctional centers across the country.
Presenting the plans of the new administration, the Deputy Director General Dennis Harman said they currently train the inmates on computing skills for them to achieve some form of education before they are discharged.
Mr. Harman added that they now have a welfare fund they contribute to every month, disclosing that they previously used to limit it to just paying medical bills for officers or taking care of their funeral when they die.
According to Mr. Harman they have a capacity of about 1,739 officers for barracks accommodation and that they have an inmate population of about 4,500.
“The massive overcrowding is not allowing us to do much, because most of the inmates are not on sentence but still attending court,” Mr. Harman lamented.
Inadequate funding and delay in disbursement of quarterly allocations according to Mr. Harman is amongst the challenges they are faced with in the Correctional service.