On Jeshwang prison break

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Security plays an integral role in the development of any nation. The details surrounding the recent escape of 23 inmates being held in Jeshwang Remand Wing is not only worrying but disturbing. Most of these inmates are under remand custody for a range of offences. Though, a Prison could never be a trouble-free place given the nature and the histories of its inmates, but the number involved in this recent episode is way too high. These runaway prisoners, who are now with us in the community did not only pose security threat, but are danger to the society.

Certainly, this situation simply cannot be allowed to go on, particularly given The Gambia’s increasing security challenges. For instance if those who are apprehended for their involvement in criminal activity are confident that their detention will not last, they will not be deterred from breaking the law. In addressing the immediate short-term resolution of the problem, more attention should be paid to the prison conditions as well.

How it is that prison defenses are so easily breached, from the inside as well as from the outside? How do the inmates get their way out of the prisons?

It is high time The Gambia speeds up the processing of awaiting trial detainees, possibly with legal limits on how long they may be detained without trial.

Prison facilities in many countries are also referred to as correctional facilities, where people are corrected for the offence(s) they committed. The country must seriously consider the viability of non-custodial sentences and other substitutes for prison terms. Not every crime must result in jail term, especially when such jails do nothing to reform inmates or deter them from committing crimes in future. There is no reason why non-violent offences like drug possession cannot be punished by community service, nor does it make sense to lock juvenile offenders up with hardened repeat offenders.

Again, at this crucial time communication is important so as to update the general public on the latest development thus far. But the Prison spokesman is avoiding the media for reasons known to him, which in our view is exacerbating the whole issue.

Communities are often judged by the way they treat those who break their laws, The Gambia must radically reform the way it deals with those who find themselves in its jails if it is to attain the ideal of a truly humane society.

“One of our pillars has to be national security - our nation’s security both domestically and abroad.”
Ryan Zinke