Service work as anantidote to prison problems in nigeria

AuthorSimon-Peter Ayooluwa St. Emmanuel
PositionLLB, LLM,BL, Lecturer, Faculty of Law,Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria
AGORA International Journal of Juridical Sciences,
ISSN 1843-570X, E-ISSN 2067-7677
No. 1 (2016), pp. 29-39
S-P. A. St. Emmanuel
Simon-Peter Ayooluwa St. Emmanuel
Lecturer, Faculty of Law,Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria.
The prison system and welfare of inmatesin Nigeria has been of great concern because
Nigerian prisons are overcrowded due to the rampant use of imprisonment as a form of
punishment. The inherent rights and dignity of prisoners are on a daily basis violatedas a
result of overcrowding, insanitary and unhygienic conditions, and non-availability of beds to
sleep on, amongst others. The aims of imprisonment as a form of reforming offenders have
not been achieved and there is a high rate of recidivism amongst ex-inmates. The Nigerian
government also made matters worse by not reforming the country’s underdeveloped prison
system. This paper comparatively explores the prison systems in Nigeria, the United Kingdom
and United States. Itexamines service work as a form of punishment and in conclusion,
advocates and recommends its use as an alternative to imprisonment because, the dignity of
prisoners is maintained. Furthermore, it reduces overcrowding and overstretching of prison
facilities and also curbs recidivism.
Keywords: Prisons, Prisoners, Service Work, Imprisonment and Prison System.
1. Introduction
A Prison is a building where people are kept as a punishment for a crime they have
committed, or while they are awaiting trial or the system of keeping people in prisons.
It is also called penitentiaries
and has also been defined as an institution designed to
securely house people who have been convicted of crimes. These individuals, known as
prisoners or inmates, are kept in continuous custody on a long-term basis. Individuals who
commit the most serious crimes are sent to prison for one or more years; the more serious the
offence, the longer the prison term imposed. For certain crimes, such as murder, offenders
may be sentenced to prison for the remainder of their lifetime
or to death.
Prisons form part of the criminal justice system of a country, thus imprisonment is a
legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime. It should be
noted that prisons are different from jails, which are facilities operated by the counties and are
used to detain adult criminal offenders who receive short-term sentences of less than one year
as in the United States. Jails are also used to temporarily house individuals awaiting trial,
witnesses in protective custody, offenders charged with crimes in other jurisdictions,
probation and parole violators, and juveniles awaiting transfer to juvenile facilities. There are
other types of detention facilities such as immigration detention centres, police lock up cells,
psychiatric wards, prisoners of war camps and military prisons such as the Guantanamo Bay
facility operated by the United States government.
An accused who has been charged with or is likely to be charged with a criminal
offence may be remandedin prison if he or she is denied or unable to meet conditions of bail
Hornby A.S. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of current English 6th ed, 2000, 926.
The word penitentiary was coined in the late 1700s bec ause it was believed that through solitary religious study
of the Bible, prisoners would become remorseful and reform their behavior.
Prisons; retrieved from Microsoft Encarta (2009) by Microsoft Corporation.

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