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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Barriers to Justice (Deplorable Prisons)

Justice Florence Lenganga earlier this month expressed concern over "deplorable conditions in which inmates were living in the country". The Judge would like to see more prison capacity :  "This address would be incomplete if I fail to mention the deteriorating conditions of our prisons, both in-terms of infrastructure in most provinces, the quality of food, lack of beddings, and in some cases non-availability of water, such that sometimes inmates have to walk long distances to fetch water and not forgetting the congestion of most of the prisons".  


We'll return the issue of inadequate prison capacity as part of our on-going series on Rethinking Justice. I'll simply note here that this is a very serious issue. In 2007 the prison capacity was around 4 000 but in the last two years we have had held almost 15 000 inmates, with less than half of these having been convicted and the rest were on remand. That is to say 50% of people in our jails have never seen justice. Just denied is bad bad enough but this also spreads to other areas. Overcrowding escalates to other problems such as lack of sleep, inadequate medical facilities, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases,  and shortage of bedding and food.  Part of the problems of course is lack of court capacity, the other is inadequate funding of the Prison Service.

1 comment:

  1. The fact is that we are all potential prisoners (remandees or convicts), so the quickier we improve the prisons the better.

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