‘About 70 percent of inmates in correctional homes across the country have not been proven guilty by the court as prescribed by the law’ Kano state’s Programme Officer, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Barr. Katume Mohammed has claimed.
She stated this in Kano at a media capacity building seminar organized by the NGO to train crime reporters in the state on various human rights dimensions in the criminal justice system of the country.
She blamed the scenario for prison congestion in the country, saying majority of the victims of illegal detention are petty offenders who could have been made to render community service commensurate to their offences.
She noted that imprisonment option for petty offences is tantamount to criminalizing poverty, and therefore appealed to criminal justice agencies to work closely with other stakeholders to explore other alternative punitive measures and make less use of imprisonment.
“We want to see that government decriminalises petty offences by not taking the offenders to prisons, there should be an alternative, something that as soon as these offenders are caught in violation of the law they should be asked to do, either community service like cleaning gutters, roads or any similar activity that will serve as a punishment for the offence.
“Detaining them has cost implication for the government because when they are detained they must be fed, if they are sick the government has to take care of them and all these contribute a lot to the cost of governance” she argued.
Mr. Christian Osueke, one of the resource persons called for attitudinal change towards the inmates of correctional homes, stressing that anybody can be a victim either unwittingly.
He also urged all and sundry especially the well-to-do in the society to assist in alleviating the condition of those behind bars.
Petty Offences are minor offences for which the punishment is prescribed by law to carry a warning, community service, a low-value fine or short term of imprisonment, often for failure to pay the fine.