Lawyers call for introduction of parole to decongest prisons

 Some lawyers in Kaduna have called on Federal Government to expedite effort in introducing parole into Nigeria criminal justice system to decongest correctional centers in country.

Speaking with News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Wednesday, they stressed need to accelerate progress of parole system into country’ criminal justice system.

NAN reports that parole is conditional release of a prisoner from imprisonment full sentence has been served.

Linus Jeremiah, a legal practitioner, said:”the introduction of parole into our criminal justice system will help to de-congest correctional centres and also help  inmates not to go back to the life of crimes again.

According to him, parole is granted for good behaviour on the condition
parolee regularly reports to the supervising officer.

”Letting a prisoner perish is not a sure means of reforming him, but rather putting in place measures of re-integrating him is the surest way of achieving the desired results.

”Some African countries like South Africa have introduced parole system which helps in decongestion.

”Though inmates are not entitled to parole rather, parole boards consider a number of factors when deciding if an inmate should be granted parole or not,” he said.

He further said parole boards will be put in place at the correctional centers level to recommend inmates who upon serving the Minimum Imprisonment Term are qualified for parole.

“The boards also will also ensure that inmates on parole engage in his assigned community development service on a day to day basis.

”It is about time for Nigeria to explore other means to  de-congest her correctional centres as justice is best served when the purpose of imprisonment is achieved,” he said.

Another legal practitioner, Shola Abiodun, stated that correctional centres are generally a rehabilitation which are meant to re-integrate the lives of those who have violated the rules of a society but that is not the case with some inmates.

Abiodun said introducing parole system provide an incentive for inmates to behave well in correctional centers and to be rewarded by early release after a programme of rehabilitation.

According to him, parole system should be limited to non-capital and the Minimum Imprisonment Terms Policy should regulate when prisoners can be listed for consideration for Parole.

He stated fact that an inmate serves out his jail term is not a yardstick for determining whether or not he would commit another offence at a later date.

“If is so, why can’t we through the parole system reintegrate, monitor and inculcate the right moral, behavioural and social pattern in inmates for to have a better society,” he added.

He further said when introducing inmates on parole, they should be designated to a community development service under the supervision of a Parole Officer in their locality.

He advised that a working Counselling Department should be set up to help reintegrate the mind-set of prisoners through counselling.

“An inmate on parole should be made to report to a Working Counselling Department at least once a week to undergo the relevant reintegration process.

“Where a prisoner on parole persistently fails to do the assigned work, the Parole Officer should recommend that he is returned to correctional center to serve his Maximum Imprisonment Term, ” Abidoun said.

Another legal practitioner, Mrs Priscilla Francis, said introducing parole will help in reducing overcrowded correctional centers.

She said apart from from reducing overcrowded correctional centres, parole also grant offenders who are likely to harm others in the society to be supervised when released.

Francis said parole help the government to cut down on high costs of maintaining large population in correctional centers and also helps inmates to maintain and develop self-confidence.

“Although it is important that decisions to release inmates, particularly those convicted of serious crimes, are not made or seen to be made simply to free up correctional centres.

” Inmates should not be granted simply for good behaviour exhibited during incarceration rather the severity of the offence committed and degree of remorse of the offence should be considered, ” he added.(NAN)