Nigerian prisons are in dire need of reforms to improve the poor conditions therein. Over the years, the Nigerian government has shown utter disregard for the welfare of Nigerian prison inmates.
It is no longer news that the Nigerian prison system has the worst welfare conditions in the world. This means that the Nigerian prisons are not living up to its responsibility of rehabilitating and reforming criminals and lawbreakers. Nigerian prisoners are more likely to become ‘threats to society’ upon release.
This is because the current neglect that the Nigerian prison system suffers, which has culminated into poor condition and welfare of Nigerian prisons have made the inmates less sympathetic by causing them to stay in a terrible and inhumane facility. It will most likely affect them psychologically.
Problems of Nigerian Prisons
Nigerian prisons are in near-comatose condition due to poor welfare and neglect by the government. We have listed the common causes of poor prison conditions in Nigeria. These include;
Overpopulation and congestion are some of the major causes of the poor conditions of Nigerian prisons. This has destabilized the entire correctional system in Nigeria.
Nigerian prisons are overpopulated and congested due to the corrupt nature of the Nigerian judiciary system. This problem can be traced to the Nigerian justice system and police.
Nigerian prisoners have been subjected to poor mental and social health. The number of prisoners who are categorized as ‘awaiting trial persons‘ is more than 70% of the Nigerian prison population, according to the news report.
The congested prison is a contributory factor to the poor condition of Nigerian prisons. The rate of violence, self-harm, and suicide increases at a tremendous rate in Nigerian prison due to overcrowding.
#2. Poor Medical Facilities
Terrible medical facilities is a cause of the poor condition of Nigerian prisons. Nigerian prisoners rarely enjoy proper medical treatment. A lot of health needs of Nigerian prisoners do not receive much-needed attention.
A lot of Nigerian prisoners also catch diseases because of the dirty and unsanitary conditions of prisons in Nigeria. It is a crucial issue because of newer cases of HIV/AIDS, dysentery, cholera run rampage in prisons in Nigeria.
Also, incidents of prisoners who suffer from poor mental health are on the rise. Prisoners in Nigeria do not get effective psychiatric care.
#3. Poor Nutrition and Feeding
Nigerian prisoners have suffered from a lack of nutritious meals. This has contributed to poor conditions in Nigerian prisons.
Eating healthily is essential for good health. Inmates in Nigerian prisons are not adequately fed, and the scanty meals they are served lack nutritional value. Nigerian prisoners become violent and aggressive because of poor feeding systems that negatively affect their mental health. A lot of Nigerian prisoners are underweight and malnourished.
#4. Sexual Immorality and Abuse
Nigerian prisoners are victims of sexual violence and abuse, which will further traumatize them and affect their health.
The Nigerian prison is known for its violence and sexual victimization among male and female inmates. This includes rape, which will further lead to the spread of venereal diseases, self-violence and suicide, depression, drug dependence etc. This is one of the poor conditions the Nigerian prison is known for.
#5. Drug Dependence
Drug addiction and dependence are prevalent in Nigerian prisons. This is due to criminal activities which are alcohol and drug-related.
Solutions to Problems of Nigerian Prison
Nigeria prisons are in urgent need of reform by the government. Reforms will correct the poor conditions of Nigerian prisons and boost the workability of the correction system in Nigeria.
Prison reforms are essential because:
- It is a way of respecting the human rights of Nigerian prison inmates. Nigerian prisoners are still entitled to fundamental human rights, except the right to liberty.
- Prison reforms will improve the health conditions of inmates.
To correct the poor prison conditions in Nigeria, the following should be done:
- The judiciary should engage in a fair trial.
- The Nigerian police should perform their duties under the laws of the constitution.
- Prison wardens and the entire correctional system should treat Nigerian prisoners in line with the rule of law and with respect for their rights.
- Laws should be made, and best practices should be promulgated, to safeguard the rights of Nigerian prisoners.
- Rationalization in sentence policy should be made to tackle the congestion in prisons.
- There is a need for the construction of more prison yards. To tackle the problem of prison congestion, prisons should be built in each constituency in Nigeria.
- Also, redistribution exercises should be carried out regularly in order to share inmates equally in every prison in Nigeria.
- NGOs and humanitarian agencies should be given a free pass to regularly visit the prison and observe whatever is going on in prisons around the country to suggest ways to decongest and improve the prison.
- Prisons across the country should be provided with better facilities and infrastructure, such as places for leisure. There is a need for the refurbishment of structures in prisons. The budget allocated for prison services should be judiciously used to improve the welfare of prisoners.
- All prisoners should be entitled to skill acquisition and vocational craft training. In fact, a curriculum should be in place to engage the prisoners in productive enterprise and add value to their rehabilitation. For academic-oriented inmates, facilities should be put in place to help them attain higher educational qualifications. Libraries and teachers should be provided to engage these inmates.
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