‘Govt must provide correctional facilities with adequate resources’

Legislators have recommended that the proposed Prisons and Correctional Bill should ensure that correctional facilities have enough resources for inmates.

The suggestion was made by Norton Constituency MP, Temba Mliswa, as the Parliament heard the findings of public consultations that had been done pertaining to the Bill.

The Bill was gazetted in October 2022 and seeks to amend the Prisons Act which was enacted into law in 1956 and was last amended in 2004.

The objective of the Bill is to align the law with international norms and standards relating to the prison administration which is now more on restorative justice as opposed to punishment of offenders.

Mliswa said amending the law with no resources in place would not yield the desired results.

“One key issue which I think is missing and which was not highlighted is that it is all good saying all this but already they are under-resourced. So how do you come up with this grand idea when there are no resources? The jails are full, the food is not good and the clothing is not good,” Mliswa said.

“Our colleague Member of Parliament Hon. Sikhala is wearing clothes which he uses at home. He is now using them there because there is no material which they are supposed to be given which is supposed to be in line with those requirements. There is this glaring issue and so, what measures are going to be taken from a resource mobilisation point of view to ensure that once this is done, it will be what we want it to be. The reason why I say this is that we have done a lot in addressing a lot of issues from a paperwork point of view.”

Zanu-PF legislator, Misheck Mataranyika, who was presenting the report, said citizens submitted that prisons need to be upgraded and expanded because they are overcrowded.

“Members of the public submitted that there is a need to upgrade and expand prisons and correctional facilities in order to mitigate overcrowding in prisons. It was emphasised that it is essential to distinguish inmates according to their ages because doing so will prevent younger inmates (18 years to 21 years) from being influenced by the older inmates with more criminal experience,” Mataranyika said.

“In addition, it was highlighted that there is a need to utilise the industrial skills of inmates on various projects in order to generate income for prisoners and the country. The public also highlighted that the Bill will provide for various health rights including routine check-ups and preventative measures. It was submitted that the Bill will mandate a medical officer to give special regard and care to inmates on the death penalty by examining them every day and observing their mental condition.”

Mataranyika said among other things, the Bill proposes the establishment of the Prisons and Correctional Service Commission, which will determine how the Service is run, the modernisation of prisons and correctional facilities to ensure that they meet international norms and standards and a prison system that caters for the needs of vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, juvenile offenders, persons with disabilities, and other special categories that have special needs.

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