By Maxwell Adeleye
To decongest prisons nationwide, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Thursday canvassed the decentralisation of the nation’s prisons system.
Akeredolu gave the advice during a courtesy visit by the Comptroller of Prisons in the state, Suanu Kelani, to the Governor’s Office in Akure.He said state governments in other parts of the world also build and maintain prison structures other than the Federal Government.
“There are state and federal prisons, so why don’t we decentralise it? There is nothing wrong with the state government building the structures.
“It won’t continue to work this way with only the Federal Government building and managing prisons.
“No wonder some prisons are closing down; the point is not congestion, the problem is expansion and as long as we leave it as a federal concern, it will always be a problem,’’ the governor said.
He said federal prison facilities were being used for so many years without maintenance, adding that crime rate was also on the increase.
Akeredolu assured the prison service of assistance in the provision of ambulance and finding solution to the numerous persons awaiting trial.
Earlier, Kelani had pledged the command’s cooperation with the state government in criminal justice administration as well as security.
“The command remains accessible to you, particularly in the area of agriculture and entrepreneurship.
“We are willing to supply a reasonable level of manpower from the pool of our convicted males who have few months to discharge.
“This will undoubtedly reduce costs in terms of overhead and on the other hand, symbiotically expose the inmates to new farming techniques and boost their earning scheme policy.
“It will also assist in their reintegration and entrepreneurial component,’’ Kelani said.
He, however, listed the challenges confronting the command to include lack of suitable office accommodation as well as vehicles.
“It is on record that Ondo State Command maintains five prisons with a high number of persons awaiting trial.
“Most times, court duties become difficult due to lack of operational vehicles and ambulances when inmates are sick and require being taken to hospitals outside the premises.
“Also, drugs and other medications for the treatment of inmates and staff when infirm and the re-establishment of the survey plan for Owo Prison pose a serious challenge to the command,’’ Kelani said.