A judge of the High Court of Lagos State, Atinuke Oluyemi, has called on governments at all levels to invest in the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates of correctional centres across the country.

She said the step would help the inmates to be better citizens when released from the centres.

Justice Oluyemi, who represented Pastor Layide Bakare, made the call in a lecture entitled, ‘Inmates entrepreneurial empowerment as a strategy for crime curtailment,’ which she delivered at the matriculation and graduation of Onesimus Project held at Medium Security Prisons in the Kirikiri area of Apapa, Lagos last Wednesday.

The project is a life recovery pre-release empowerment programme of the Prison Fellowship Nigeria in conjunction with its partners – Nigerian Correctional Service, Covenant University as well Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria.

Oluyemi made a case for better funding of the nation’s correctional centres, adding that officials must be well enumerated.

She said: “Correctional centres undisputedly are primary partners with other collaborators (police; ministries of justice and judiciary) in criminal justice administration in the country; and as such deserve to be better funded by the government and configured to rehabilitate inmates; while officials must be well remunerated.

“Governments at all levels are enjoined to rise to their constitutional responsibility to ensure that the NCoS live up to its expectation. The government at all levels must support organisations and institutions like Onesimus Project to give inmates reasons to eschew crime by investing in their reformation and rehabilitation to help them to be better citizens when released from these centres.

“I had earlier stated four canons which imprisonment or confinement must generate in inmates. Without a doubt, by the Onesimus Project, the Prison Fellowship of Nigeria and its partners have chosen to focus on one major aspect, and that is the rehabilitation of inmates, which in my view encompasses the rest.

“The consequences of rehabilitating inmates are germane as its effect on the larger society is enormous. One of such consequences is the social-economic impact on the rehabilitee and invariably on the society at large.”

She lamented what she described as the abysmal state of the nation’s custodial centres, adding that a number of them are now dilapidated with terrible sleeping conditions and overcrowded inmates.

“The incessant prison breaks in the country, the recent being Kuje Correctional Centre break, attest to the dilapidation state of the centres. This is quite disheartening,” she added.

The Director-General/Chief Executive of SMEDAN, Mr Olawale Fasanya, said to reduce crime in society, an enabling environment must be created for reconciliation, financial independence, productivity and employment.

“A society that is crime-free and peaceful has the potential to induce the emergence of a stable environment that will drive prosperity. It is, therefore, imperative that crime is tackled as a precursor to economic prosperity,” Fasanya said.

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