Overcrowded Prison Compels Inmates To Sleep In Bathroom?

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Overcrowding of prison is a long-running problem that has bedeviled prisons not only in outlying areas but the Central Prison in the nation’s capital, Monrovia.

In the second port city of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County, Correction officers are frustrated over the over crowdedness, with some inmates now sleeping in the restrooms of the facility.

One of the Correction officers now considers the continuing problem as “a national emergency”.

The Buchanan Central Prison Superintendent, Major Tom Butler Karmala has confirmed that some inmates are sleeping in the bathroom because the prison no longer has any space to host any more inmates.

Justice Ministry officials in Monrovia are yet to respond to the situation of over-crowdedness at prison facilities.

Major Karmala made the revelation at the formal opening of the August A.D. 2023 term of Court here on Monday, August 14, 2023.

“The problem of the prison is not expansion but rather over crowdedness something he said, they have always complained to the Justice Ministry, but the Justice Ministry continues to play deaf ears to them leaving the heavy weight on them.”

Looking visibly frustrated about the situation, the Buchanan Prison chief added:

“The Buchanan Central prison was constructed to accommodate 47-50 inmates, but the prison is now hosting 125 and it is increasing per day which is totally out of their control. Fifteen to sixteen (15-16) inmates are sleeping in one bedroom and some even sleep in the bathrooms,“ said Major Karmala.

The Buchanan Central Prison Superintendent called on the administration of Grand Bassa County to visit the prison themselves and see the conditions inmates and prison authorities are faced with.

This prison center lacks medication and whenever inmates are taken to local hospitals, health care providers, they are given prescriptions to buy medicine, a financial burden that rests on the shoulders of the local prison authorities who have to use their little salaries in the name of saving lives.

The Buchanan Prison Superintendent however, praised the Grand Bassa County Local Bar for always identifying with them during times of need.

Also speaking on the same over crowdedness of prison, the Public Defender of Grand Bassa County, Cllr. Aaron Kartee also confirmed that the situation was grave, with a rising number of pre-trial detainees, something he says is a national emergency and it needs urgent attention by Justice actors.

Cllr. Kartee noted that the release of some pre-detainees who have over-stayed is very difficult, because their crimes are capital offenses and whenever he filed the necessary motions, they are denied.

But the Public Defender has called on the Resident Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit Court, Joe S. Barkon to use his discretion.

Cllr. Kartee added that if it will be decongested, cases should be heard speedily and those who hi held for minor offenses should be released.

Meanwhile, the Grand Bassa County Local Bar of the Liberian National Bar Association some months ago donated a solar power light to the Central prison. And during the formal opening of Court last Monday, they also gave two new sewing machines to the prison.

This local Bar is always doing extremely well for the prison by providing needs whenever they are called upon, Prison Superintendent Karmala asserted.

 By Garmah Never Lomo, garmahlomo@gmail.com

 

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