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  • Background to the study

The claim that Nigerian prisons are engaged in carefully designed and well-articulated reformative and rehabilitative programmes is aimed at inculcating discipline and respect among convicts (Nigerian Prison Services, 2009) is not supported by the rule of retributive punishment which prison administrators have continued to enforce. Adjustment of discharged prisoners in Nigeria has become a huge problem because the society has come to view such discharged prisoners as social misfits who are not amenable to corrections. Such discharged prisoners are therefore, stigmatized and treated as social pariahs. This rejection by the society sometimes forces them back to crime. In addition, (Latessa & Allen, 2009) expressed the view that the inmate who has served a longer amount of time in prison has had his tendencies toward criminality strengthened and is therefore more likely to recidivate than the inmate who has served a lesser amount time. They argued that prisons are like schools of crime where one learns more crime from the peers (inmates).

In Nigeria, the welfare of prisoners and prison officials is nothing to write home about. The prevailing poor conditions (poor feeding, toilets, beddings among others) which the prison officials and inmates are subjected to have provided a fertile ground for revolt. Indeed, most of the incidents of jailbreak that have been recorded in the country were occasioned by the unbearable inhuman situation in our prisons (Udutchay, 2010). Some prison officials sometimes incite inmates to involve themselves in jailbreak because of the prevailing conditions.

The aim of imprisonment according to section 2(4) of the Nigerian Prison Act (1972) is to endeavour to identify the reason for anti- social behaviour of the offenders; to train, rehabilitate and reform them to be good and useful citizens. It is therefore expected that the recidivism will decrease if the objective of imprisonment is achieved by planning and providing proper rehabilitation of prisoners. This will enable them to be law abiding citizens of the society and engage in productive activities for their daily living on release from prison.

Colonial prisons in Nigeria were not designed for reformation or rehabilitation rather prisons were intended to be punitive. Hence, prisoners were used mainly for public works and other jobs for the colonial administrators as a form of punishment (Investigating Human Right, n:d; 176-184). At the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), there was a remarkable shift in penal philosophy, particularly in colonial territories. The emphasis was no longer primarily on the punishment of criminals but there was also concern for their reformation and rehabilitation (Igbo, 2007). Officially, it is claimed that the role of the Nigerian prison services is tripartite in nature. Firstly, the service is responsible for the safe custody of persons legally interned. Secondly, it provides treatment to them, and thirdly, it seeks to rehabilitate them. The philosophy of the Nigerian prison service is that treatment and rehabilitation of offenders can be achieved through carefully designed and well-articulated administrative, reformative and rehabilitative programmes aimed at inculcating discipline, respect for the law and order and regard for the dignity of honest labour (Nigerian Prison Services, 2009).

A prisoner without adequate rehabilitation opportunity through skills training and capacity building usually returns to the society which has incarcerated him or her as a hardened enemy of that society. Such an ex-convict is often full of desire for vengeance because he or she sees himself or herself as victimized rather than corrected. In addition, such an ex-convict is likely to do more harm than good to a society invariably perceived as an oppressive system. This condition explains to a very great extent why many Nigerian ex-prisoners end up as recidivists (Ugwuoke, 2004).

The rehabilitation of prison inmates should begin from the very day they are admitted into the prison to the day they are discharged (Igbo, 2007). This is to ensure that they utilize the skills they acquired in the course of rehabilitation to live a law abiding life in the society. There are number of programmes in place meant to divert offenders from crime to useful pursuits that make crime unattractive or condemnable such as moral or religious institutions, education, vocational training etc. Based on the fact that efforts of the prisons in equipping the inmates with vocational skills are faced with various problems, questions as to whether the prisons are actually rehabilitating convicts, the effectiveness of these rehabilitation programmes or whether there is an existing conflict between the punitive ideas of imprisonment inherited from the colonialism and the need for rehabilitation are issues of concern.

Ugwuoke, (2000) observed that the Nigerian penal institutions are saddled with the function of performing contradictory roles. On the one hand, the prisons are expected to reform and rehabilitate inmates; while on the other hand, they are equally expected to perform the retributive function of ensuring that the inmates are adequately punished for their crimes. Despite the fact that the Nigerian prisons service today, is assigned the onerous responsibility of ensuring the safe custody of offenders as well as their reformation and rehabilitation (Nigerian prisons services, 2009), huge part of the prisons’ activities favour retribution. In reaction to this, (Ugwuoke, 2000) affirmed that the Nigerian prisons service is in a dilemma because rehabilitation and retribution practices are not compatible. It is to this effect that one wonders whether the prisons are actually rehabilitating convicts or are still depending on punitive practices. To this end, Nigerian prisons find it difficult to perform their statutory functions which include the custody of offenders as well as their reformation and rehabilitation (NPS, Annual Report, 2000).

To this end, the prison institution needs to reformation and rehabilitation by utilizing all the remedial, education, moral, spiritual and other forms of assistance available. This should be applied according to individual treatment needs of the prisoners. According to Sir Alexander Paterson, a prison administrator, the first duty of the prison warden is to ensure at least that a man emerging from prison is no more deprived than when he entered it. However, there are certain conditions that pose as challenges to rehabilitation and reformation of inmates. This condition can be attributed to poor attitudes to rehabilitation, apathy of the government towards reformation and rehabilitation of inmates, overcrowding, inadequate feeding, poor sanitary and medical facilities illegal detentions, inadequate recreation, vocational facilities and poorly designed facilities.

“It is no secret that prison infrastructure in the country is a shambles.…. Prisoners are held in dilapidation building, some of them erected, many years ago, prisoners like Bauchi construction in 1820, Yola: 1905, Sokoto: 1908, Kano: 1903 among others are begging for both structural and aesthetic renovations’’ Kunle (2009). This is why Ahamadu (2011) observed that a prison is said to be crowded not only when it holds more person than its rated capacity (that is the capacity determined by architects and planners) but also when the ratio between personnel and inmates exceeds a certain proportion. Quinney (2009) is of the view that even when rehabilitation and reformation programmes are provided they are as dehumanizing as imprisonment.

The Nigerian prison service in their view has been performing their functions to the best of their ability and equipment. According to the report and recommendation on the classification of prisoners… it is a mistaken belief that no classification can be done without the participation of qualified graduate psychiatrist, psychology and sociology. They can be substituted with qualified psychiatrist Nursing Superintendent. According to Giwa (2012:11) “our prison system is reformative and not punitive. The process of imprisonment start from the time a person is arrested, remanded, charged, tried and convicted, He, however, admitted that the process of justice is so slow that many inmates awaiting trial have to remain under painful suspense for very long before their fate is decided ‘’. The mental agony and physical strain undergone before his conviction and the deprivation of liberty would seem to be enough punishment.

According to the federal government’s policy on the reorganization of prison (1971), the Nigerian prison service had been providing the inmate with reformative and rehabilitative programes with a view to making them employable on release. In spite of the claims of the Nigeria   prison, there are challenges confronting successful rehabilitation and reformation of inmates in Pankshin Correctional Centre.’

1.2. Statement of the Problem

Despite the noble objectives of reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration which the Nigerian prison system embarks on to ensure that criminals become changed persons, the realization of this objective has been obstructed by certain factors. The rate at which ex-convicts are returning to jail is alarming. Reformation of prisoners has not been effective as every year criminals who become more hardened and deadly are released as against changed individuals expected by the society. Ayodele (2014) stated that prisons have in modern times become training ground and school for a new category of criminals and patterns of crime unknown to the society. In addition, reported that the prison is just where one learns one or two mistakes that led to one being arrested, so that inmates get smarter by sharing experience with more learned colleagues. In line with this, (Adelaja, 2009) noted that prisoners left unoccupied with constructive and positive activities are likely to perfect their criminal activities through the learning of new tricks from other inmates.

Prison inmates that embraced rehabilitation during their period of incarceration acquire skills that provide them with services, opportunities and employment on discharge. The prison authorities with the efforts of the government have provided various rehabilitation programmes in various prisons. These programmes range from adult literacy, tailoring, welding, carpentry, and farming among others. Various studies have been carried on rehabilitation and reformation of inmates in correctional centres. Most of the studies focused on availability of rehabilitation and reformation programmes.

It is in the light of the above discussion that this study seeks to determine challenges of rehabilitation and reformation of inmates in Pankshin Correctional Centre.

1.3. Purpose of the study.

The main purpose of this study is to examine the challenges of rehabilitation and reformation of inmates in Pankshin Correctional Centre.

            Specifically this study would want to:

  1. To find out the rehabilitation services offered to inmates.
  2. To examine the personnel challenges confronting rehabilitation of inmates in Pankshin correctional centre.
  3. To determine the facilities and infrastructural challenges confronting rehabilitation and reformation of inmates in Pankshin Correctional Centre.
  4. To examine the possible solutions to these challenges.
    • Research Question

The following research questions are used to guide the study:

  1. What are the rehabilitation services offered to inmates in Pankshin correctional centre?
  2. What are the challenges confronting the personnel in rehabilitating of inmates in Pankshin correctional centre?
  3. What are the facilities and infrastructural challenges confronting rehabilitation and reformation of inmates in Pankshin Correctional centre?
  4. What are the possible solutions to the identified challenges?

1.5. Significance of the Study

The practical importance of this study stands clear, the major beneficiaries of this study are the prison inmates while serving their jail term and after jail term, the society which they belong and the government.

            Prison inmates during their jail term acquire knowledge and skills that help them make their jail term easier to complete by getting engaged in learning the activities that help them pass the time, afterwards after their release also, prison inmates now ex–convicts become reformed individually by putting whatever skills and knowledge they have acquired into practice, this in turn helps them become employed and make income to sustain themselves and their families. This in ultimate conclusion will help them reintegrate into the society again as better individuals with reformed characters and attitudes.

            Another major significance of this study is that it will enable the society which these ex – convicts live in to remain in peace and experience harmonious atmosphere to dwell in. The society will also experience an increase in manpower demand as a result of the ex–convicts establishments and also an increase in supply of labor as a result of the knowledge and skills which the ex – convicts must have acquired during their jail term.

            Finally, the government also benefits indirectly from this in the sense that when ex – convicts have acquired the desired rehabilitation, there will be reduction in crime rates because the individuals will eventually become engaged in one activity or the other and no longer give themselves to criminal acts, this will make the government experience peaceful administration and political activities. In another view, the economic situation of the country will receive a boost when these criminals become self employed and employers of labor. This will also reduce the pressure of unemployment cases on the government.

1.6. Scope of the Study

The study is limited to challenges of rehabilitation and reformation of inmates. It is limited Pankshin correctional Centree in Plateau State. The challenges which shall be explored include personnel challenges, infrastructural challenges and attitudinal challenges. Despite the fact that the study focuses on the Pankshin correctional centre, its findings shall be generalized to other correctional centres within the state and the country at large.

1.7. Operational Definition of Terms

  • Service: These are works done for others. In the context of this study, the services are offered to inmates.
  • Facilities: These are physical equipment and structures found in an organization such as buildings and equipment.
  • Challenges: these are problems which are encountered during a programme.
  • Correction Centre: An institutional building where those who have committed one crime or the other are kept as punishment which acts as reformation centers for criminals.
  • Inmates: People who are living in prison confinement for committing crimes.
  • Jail term: The period with which a criminal will remain in custody of prison.
  • Reformation: The act of improving or changing somebody.
  • Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation in this context is the whole process of making a prisoner useful to himself and the society by imparting in him basic skills and knowledge that will enable him regain his social functioning upon discharge.

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  • Chapter 1 to 5
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