AN ASSESSMENT OF THE REHABILITATORY FUNCTION OF NIGERIAN PRISON SERVICE
The central thrust of this research is to assess the Rehabilitatory function of Nigeria prison using Makurdi prison. Prison have always been considered as rehabilitative and reformatory centre, However, in reality as a result of a number of factors this may not be completely successful as expected. It may become a breeding ground for criminals. This is the problem facing every society and Nigeria prison are not insulated from this problem. Against this backdrop this study attempts to empirically assess the rehabilitation in Nigeria prison with Makurdi (Medium security Prison ) as a case study. To achieve this sample size, of 20 prison officials and 80 inmates were selected through simple random sampling by the use of prison register. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through the use of questionnaire and interview method. Also the analysis of data was through the combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis. This result of the data analysis showed that the respondents varied in socio-demographic characteristics such as age, sex, marital status, educational qualification, religion offence committed etc. Further, the data showed that many of the inmates said that there is Rehabilitatory scheme such as carpentry work, electrical work ,shoe making etc. Through some opined that despite the existing scheme it was only meant for convicts and only awaiting trail inmates were excluded from t benefiting in such schemes. The data also showed that the few among the inmates who are convicts said that they would be better person on release and will enable them secure job either at formal or informal sector. Most of the inmates considered the prison as place of rehabilitation are inadequate, Also, the study showed that inadequate funding ,societal stigmatization, congestion, inadequate attention from government has contributed to the hitches of rehabilitation in Makurdi prison. Despite the aforementioned problems the prison still has been able to play the role of rehabilitation at a small measure. Finally, the study discovered that congestion of inmates, stigmatization of convicts by the society has been a big challenge to the institution, On the basis of the findings the study recommended that issues of prison rehabilitation and reformation must be taken seriously in other to achieve the set objectives of rehabilitation which the prison was established.
1.1 Background to the Study
Prison is an institution designed to securely house people who have been convicted of crime or are on awaiting trial. These individuals known as prisoners or inmates are kept in continuous custody on a short or long-term basis. Individuals who commit the most heinous crime are sent to prison for more years, the more serious the offence ,the longer the prison term imposed (Microsoft Encarta 2008).
Also according to McCorkle and Korn (1970)., Prison can be defined as a physical structures in a geographical location, where a number of people living under highly specialized condition utilize the resources and adjust to the alternatives presented to them by a unique kind of social environment.
A prison is seen as a total institution or a place of residence and work where a large number of like situated individuals are cut off from the wider society for appreciable period of time together lead and enforce formally administered round of life.
Adelola, (1982), opined that the physical appearance of prison is of tall wall supplanted with barbwires an iron gates antiquated buildings separated
Prisons from its larger community outside. These isolated structures according to him are meant to accomplish the confinement aspect. While confinement is made to detach the prisoners from his previous infectious groups, this new, environment is expected to provide the prisoner with particular opportunities of rethinking, stock taking and repentance from old ways.
Historically, this type of punishment for crime had been determined by economic and political relationship rather than by the public police or any Penological theory. In early English or German law, a system of adjusting wrongs and injuries existed. where by the offender was able to buy off the vengeance against him and his kin by compensation, fines, mutilation, banishment ,enslavement and death were other types of punishment for offenders, Long-term imprisonment was virtually unknown until modern times. In ancient Greece and Rome for example, Mamertine prison, constructed in Rome in the 17th century B.C, consisted of a vast network of dungeons under the cities main sewer (Morris 1978: 475). These subterranean laws held political dissident and criminals for periods of time in cramped, miserable conditions. However, the practice of confining wrong doers for long period as
in form of punishment was not wide spread until after 15th century (Microsoft Encarta, 2010).
More so, imprisonment as a form of punishment of offenders was not known to many pre- colonial communities in African. There were traditional institutions in Nigeria that served as prison before British rule. For example, the ‘‘Evedo” of Edo group and “Ogboni” of Yoruba group houses respectively were all places for keeping those put away for some time while other forms existed among the Fulanis and Tivs (Akeredulo Ale 1979:156)
Rehabilitation according to oxford advanced learner’s dictionary means to help some body returned to a normal life or therapy.
Rehabilitation penology was said to have developed at the beginning of the 20th century in England (Carten and Cook,1989). It was more concern with the criminal than mere punishment. In other words, an individual sentencing was aimed at removing the causes of his criminal behavior (Tamerbraun 19780.
Prison goals as laid down in the Nigerian Prison training manual state that prison service establishment, are based on the custodial and rehabilitative roles of prison of prison institutions usually, the resettlements of discharging
prisoners into purposeful, meaningful community life is the major role and aim
of the Nigerian prison. Accordingly, prison education and vocational training programmes have been at the centre of the process adopted by the institutions in the realization of these goals. One hidden agenda of imprisonment has been to punish criminals for their crime and to deter offenders from committing crime. The way prisoners perceive the objectives of imprisonment, it is assumed will affect their responsiveness to prison rehabilitation programmes, especially vocational training. But up till date this continues to be the ideal picture of Nigerian prison and other prisons world wide.
According to Awake (2005), there are four reasons why law breakers are put in prison to punish the offender. To rehabilitate the criminal, teaching him or her to be law abiding and productive after release , to protect the society and prevent future crimes has been the ideal role of Nigeria prisons.
Although prison policy called for provision of legal, religions, educational , vocational, and social welfare services, Nigeria’s prison system as in most third world countries is grossly inadequate. There is no systematic classification of prisoners, so that young and the old, and suspects for minor offences most of whom are pretrial detainees and first time offenders incarcerated for extended periods and eventual release upon acquittal were
inter-mixed with dangerous and deranged criminals or repeat offenders. This has worsened the role of Nigeria prison to rehabilitate inmates or prisoner effectively.
However, the extent to which Nigerian prison fulfils these roles may be doubtful in view of the nature of the treatment of the offenders and resources available to accomplish these roles of rehabilitating inmate in prison. Therefore, the major concern of this study is to carry out an assessment of the rehabilitative function of Nigeria prison to see whether Nigeria prison are accomplishing these set tasks of rehabilitation for which they were established using the Makurdi Medium Security Prison to determine to what extent it has successful in performing this function of rehabilitation and to proffer solutions.
1.2 Statement of research problem
One begins to wonder whether the Nigerian prison is performing these role of rehabilitation as a set objective considering the tremendous upsurge in the number of crimal activities such as: arm robbery, burglar, economic saboteur, drug pushing ,pipe-line vandalism, coup d’état and other dissident whose action threatens the social fabric of the nation.
Also over the year, the prison as rehablitatory institution has been subject of various studies. However, very little attention has been paid to how the
system of government and other external factors affects positively or negatively on rehabilitation in prison in Nigeria. There is a growing concern among the Nigerian public that prisons are fast loosing its value to the fact that it has failed to rehabilitate and reform criminals. Studies have shown that the condition of most Nigerian prison is unfavorable for the full realization of rehabilitation goals.
For instance, life in Nigerian prison is so regimented to the extent that it appears that the primary purpose is punctive. Once as put succinctly by Chiemeka B. (2005;5) is that the current state of affair of prisons can only take criminals off the street for a while, it seems that they do little, if any thing to deter crime in the long term.
Some prisoners come out of the prison and form a clique of hoodlums and engage in criminal activities that are more devastating and debilitating to the society. The work therefore, is designed to bring lime or make an assessment of the rehabilitative function of Nigeria prison in Makurdi. The following questions are designed to guide the study.
1.3 Research Questions
1. What is the extent of rehabilitation in Nigeria prison service?
2. What are the living conditions of inmates in Makurdi prison?
3. What are the barriers to rehabilitation in Nigeria prison service?
4. What can be done to make noble prison objectives of rehabilitation in Nigeria prison more realizable?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to assess the rehabilitation of prisoners (i.e inmates) in Makurdi prison. To attain this objective, the following objectives were used.
i. To assess the extent of rehabilitation in the Nigeria prison service.
ii. To assess the living conditions of the prisoners with respect to accommodation, feeding, recreational facilities e.t.c.
iii. To find out the barriers to rehabilitation in Nigeria prison service.
iv. To proffer solution that could make noble prison objectives of rehabilitation more realizable.
1.5 Significance of the study
Since such has not been done in Nigeria, thus this study when carried out will elicit necessary feed stock, which can facilitate the improvement of rehabilitation among prisons inmates in Makurdi and Nigeria at large. This study will generally provide a window to a glimpse into the factors affecting the performance of the Nigerian prisons in the rehabilitation of inmates.
This study is also significant because if carefully carried out or done will serve as a spring board for future research in the field of rehabilitation among prisoners.
Finally, it can also aid policy making towards the improvement of the prisons system in Nigeria such that after prisoners might have been released will have been acquainted with skills for self sustainance and will go along way to foretell and expose criminal activities in Nigeria.
1.6 Definition of terms
In this study, efforts will be made to provide operational definition of important concepts as below:
A. Rehabilitation: According to Ahire . (2004:8) rehabilitation refers to post- release efforts made to make it easier for the offender to resettle (or be resettled) in the society. Also according to the national Development Policy of Nigeria(1989:4) defined rehabilitation as a process whereby a disabled person is restored to the fullest physical, mental, psychological, social, vocational and economic usefulness of which the individual is capable. In my own view, rehabilitation could
B. mean to recivilize an individual who have erred or breached a law to become a conformer to conventional rules.
C. Prison: (1997:33) define prison as A place or building delimited and declared as such by law of the state and created to ensure restraint and custody of individual accused or convicted of violating the criminal laws of the state. According to M C Corke and Korn (1971) Prison can be defined as a physical structure in a geographical conditions utilize the resources and adjust to the alternatives presented to them by a unique kind of social environment. The researcher view the prison to be a building that houses people that are been accused or convicted of crime to serve as punishment and deference to potential offender or violators.
D. Prisoners: Prisoners according to oxford learners dictionary, a prisoner is a person who is kept in a conformed place known as the prison as punishment while they are awaiting for trial. In my own understanding a prisoner is an offender or law breaker who is kept in the prison and undergoes some certain punishment as he awaits trail.
E. Punitive: Punitive according to the oxford advanced learners dictionary,
F. they are very severe measures or punishment that people find it difficult to pay ‘taxes’ which are intended as punishment.
G. Punishment: Punishment are rough treatment or an act of punishing, inflicting or imposing pains on an individual to deter others from committing crime.
H. Imprisonment: Imprisonment is to put somebody in a prison or in another place from which they cannot escape.
I. Inmates: An inmate according to the oxford advanced learners dictionary are persons living in instituted on such as a prison or a mental hospital.
J. Offender: An offender is a person who commits crime or who is a violator of law.
K. Rehabilitatory institutions: According to Ahire . (2005) Rehabilitatory institutions are organization that have particular purpose that are aimed at helping somebody to have a normal useful life again after they have been very sick or in prison for a long time.
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