EFFECTIVENESS OF REHABILITATION PROGRAM IN THE NIGERIAN PRISON

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the study

The holy book says in Hosea 4:6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. People perish for lack of knowledge and information. In a country like Nigeria, many of her citizenry are illiterates and those who manage to have the basic normal education do not have access to information regarding their day to day activities. The media’s provisions are not the best for the neo-literates. Hence, criminal behaviors and delinquency are common occurrences in Nigeria. In recent time, armed robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, fraud, traffic offence, rape, murder and theft have become more serious to tackle as they have manifested with new methods and techniques (Omisakin, 1998). Today, the nefarious activities of the Boko Haram in term of bombing, hijacking and life threatening incidences are worrisome. These high rates of criminal behaviors and manifestation with new methods and techniques are of great concern to the society, rehabilitation social workers and other behavior modifiers. Convicted criminals are sentenced to prison for purpose of rehabilitation. In most cases, the providers of rehabilitation services are either ill-equipped or not at all to give wholesome services that can affect inmates’ lives positively. Rehabilitation services are notable for their pivotal prison role in changing lives of the inmates; unfortunately these are either not there or grossly inadequate. Change is possible for everyone. Even prison inmates can change for the better and become productive citizens. However, changing for the better and becoming productive citizens need a little sacrifice from the prison inmates and a great help from government and concerned agencies. Prison rehabilitation services were established in Nigerian prisons for the purpose of reforming the inmates. For any meaningful rehabilitation to take place in prisons, rehabilitation services must first be improved upon; adequate provisions made and these should be accessible to the inmates. 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 programs 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, 1994). 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 a 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 programs 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. The above necessitated the interest of this study of Enugu prison; and examined the inmates’ perception of the effectiveness of rehabilitation program

  • 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. (Ayodele, 1993) asserted that 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 further 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, (Civil Liberty Organization, 1993) 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. It is in view of this that the researcher intends to investigate the effectiveness of rehabilitation program in the Nigerian prison service.

EFFECTIVENESS OF REHABILITATION PROGRAM IN THE NIGERIAN PRISON