Since he was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Judiciary, Babatunde Edwards, has implemented robust institutional reforms that have boosted the morale of personnel resulting in improved service delivery. However, it is the opinion of The Calabash that for these reforms to improve justice delivery they must be complemented with extensive reforms of the penal system.
It must be noted that some years back the Prison Service name was changed from Prisons to Correctional.
The intention of the change of name was to make the institution reform, reshape and train prisoners to live productive lives after serving their sentences. However, with limited financial and human resources, a lot remains to be desired. Number one issue to be considered is overcrowding in correctional centres which carries with it serious implications of disease transmission both inside the facilities and after release.
The other aspect tied to overcrowding is that of inmates’ access to recreational facilities. With correctional centres short of manpower, inmates spend most of their time in locked spaces with nothing creative to do with their time.
This penal system, experts believe, can be remedied by Police Prosecutors and Magistrate Courts resorting more to Alternate Dispute Resolution Solutions for minor offences than serving custodial sentences. Convicts can also be sentenced to house imprisonment and doing community service which results in a lot of savings for the Government in terms of lodging, feeding, etc.
The opinion of many people is that it is not economical for the State to keep idle thousands of able bodied men and women when they could be productively engaged while serving their sentences. Another aspect of penal review is preparation of convicts for a useful, productive life after jail.
The recommendation is for Correctional Centres to have vocational and technical training facilities or to link up with institutions that provide such services to make them available to inmates while serving their sentences.