Justice that Leaves No One Behind

UNDP Sierra Leone
Mar 1 · 14 min read

‘From Prisons to Corrections’

“Governance institutions in Sierra Leone do exist in terms of structures, laws, policies and processes. The overarching challenge is enforcing these laws and policies, in compliance with the processes available. The actual implementation also requires stable institutions. Stable justice institutions and access to justice are crucial to ensuring inclusive development that empowers all especially those people living in poverty.” Moses Sichei, Senior Economic Advisor, UNDP Sierra Leone.

Some of the WASH facilities at the Centers prioritized for the intervention .

The journey so far

The realities of water scarcity in Sierra Leone especially during the dry season affects quality of services delivery in the centres.
Impact of inadequate WASH facilities on inmates health creates more burden on the institution
(L-R) A 10000 litre water storage tank installed in Bo Male Correctional Center, a borehole installed in Makeni Correctional Center, and overhead showers supplied with constant running water from an external well dug in Sefadu Correctional Centr-Kono, and the borehole installed in the female section of Port Loko Correctional Center.

“We tell God thanks for your intervention. It was hard for us. We took days without bathing because water was rationed, it was not enough even for drinking. Now we have showers even twice a day. When we are walking on the streets escorting inmates to fetch water the public perception is bad. They think since you are in jail, you are not useful to society again. This makes us feel bad.” *Gassama, inmate, Bo Male Correctional Center.

(Before and after) The Waterloo holding center; (bottom right) inmates at one overcrowded facility.
The UNDP Resident Representative in Sierra Leone inspecting the work done at Mafanta Male Correctional Center as he did for all the other facilities countrywide. (Top) The facility before UNDP’s intervention.

“The idea of building prisons in society was based on the punitive aspect of things but now we are moving to restoration wherein inmates are not slaves, they are for us to help them change their mindset so that when they get out of here, they are useful to society. 80% of those incarcerated in the center are youth. It is important for us to change their mindset because the youth age is of advantage to the nation, so we have to make good use of that.” Dennis Harman, SLCS Director of Human Resources.

275 inmates have so far benefited from the Earning Scheme, 242 of these inmates have opened bank accounts with UNDP and SLCS’ support.

“Now with this project I have a bank account for the first time in my life, I am saving small, small and also helping my family who come here asking for help. I will not be like the dog to return to my vomit.” Kanu* a 34 years old inmate, a husband and father of two.

Inmates at Mafanta Male Correctional Center entertaining themselves and visitors with Sierra Leonean cultural dances.

“Formal justice systems in Sierra Leone ought to be accessible to all even those outside of major urban centers. That is why UNDP is working with the Governement to employ a holistic approach to justice under the ‘From Prisons to Corrections’ project.” Samuel Doe, Resident Representative, UNDP Sierra Leone.

The ‘Colorado effect’ on the ‘metamorphosis’

Some of the SLCS officers who have been to Colorado for the skills training and knowledge exchange programme.

“Our aim is to shift both perceptions and practices of the role and purpose of prisons from serving as places of punishment to helping inmates change their behavior and increase their chances of being reintegrated in and being helpful to society thus preventing re-offense”. Walter Neba, Rule of Law Programme Specialist, From Prisons to Corrections, UNDP Sierra Leone.

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