New Solutions To Correctional Facilities Required

Mozambique’s National Prison Service (SNAPRI) estimates that the adoption of measures other than imprisonment to punish petty criminals would save the state the equivalent of $6 million a year.

Speaking at a Maputo seminar on prison reform on 30 September, the national director of the prison service, Eduardo Mussanhane, said that the logistics required to care for the over 15,000 inmates currently incarcerated in the country’s jails was a heavy burden on the state.

The seminar was intended to collect proposals and suggestions for a bill on alternatives to prison currently being drafted.

Contributing to severe overcrowding in prisons is the fact that many of the inmates have not been convicted of anything, but are merely awaiting trial. Thirty five per cent of prisoners are on remand.

Mussanhane added that 45.3 per cent of those sentenced (4,513 prisoners in the third quarter of 2010) were serving prison terms of a year of less.

Based on international standards, there was no good reason why many of these people should not be sentenced to community work or service instead of prison terms.

According to Abdul Carimo, head of the government’s Legal Reform Technical Unit (UTREL), “the penal system is strongly retributive and allows prison to be used as the rule rather than the exception”.

The results of this including overcrowding in the prisons and a high rate of re-offending.

Source: AIM Mozambique News Agency