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1.1       Background of the Study

Prisons are often referred to as correctional and/or reformatory center. They are places/facilities where offenders are kept for either punishments or as they await trials at the courts of law. A prison according to Mc-Corkle and Korn (1954) quoted in Obioha (2011) is a physical structure in a geographical location where a number of people live under highly specialized conditions, utilize the resources and adjust to the alternatives presented to them by a unique kind of social environment that is different from the larger society in so many ways.

Recidivism means chronic repetition of crime. In Enugu prisons, recidivists are usually referred to as “Ana-Abia.” That is an Igbo expression that means “Go and come back” Recidivism has been on the increase. In fact, it is becoming common in the prisons in Enugu. Prisons are established for the punishment, treatment, training, and social rehabilitation of offenders. In Nigeria, prisons alongside the Police and Courts play dominant roles in the criminal justice system which is fundamental to the maintenance of law and order in the society. However, Wale (2010) wrote that whereas a large segment of the public seems to be familiar with the functions of the police and courts in the prevention and control of crimes, a considerable number of them are ignorant of the important role of prisons in this regard and that is largely attributable to the methods of operation of the prison institutions as their activities are carried out in an enclosed environment away from public view as well as inadequate public enlightenment. In many countries of the world and in many occasions, prisons get the attention of the public, especially the media when something goes wrong such as jail break, riots by inmates or escapes.

A prison is neither expected to be exactly a bed of roses as the inmates are there for penal purposes nor supposed to be a bed of thorns and thistles meant to snuff life out of the occupants. As Eva (2015) noted, the Nigeria prison institutions, among others in Nigerian Justice System perform three basic functions of; keeping safe custody of convicted persons and suspects as well as execute sentences passed on individuals by the courts, ensuring the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates through moral training, education and offering them opportunities to develop other potentials and skills for effective reintegration into the society on discharge and ensuring the welfare of inmates through the provision of good health care, feeding, clothing and recreational facilities in order to create the enabling environment for reformation and rehabilitation programmes. Jack (2006) recollects that the Nigerian prison system was established not just to reduce crime in the society, but also to reform criminals to better persons. As Ojo (2007) opines, the prison community with its distinct culture and way of life epitomizes a complete design capable of changing the attitudes of individual members for good or bad depending on the personal experience and the social network action.

However, there are strong accusations by critics that for the thousands of inmates in various Nigerian prisons, hell cannot be worse. This set of people believe that the sanitary situation is not only repulsive but frighteningly demeaning and exposes the inmates to health hazards as inmates are forced to excrete in buckets and stay with their excreta for days. Feeding is a luxury, bathing a rarity, recreation zilch, reformation non-existent and privacy a privilege. Hence, most inmates leave the reformatory frail, fragile and with one debilitating disease or the other (New Nigeria, 2006).

But that runs contrary to what the prison experience is meant to accomplish in the lives of those who transit through them. Prisons are essentially correctional and reformatory; they are not institutions for the dehumanization of the incarcerated. According to the Nigerian Prison Act 1972, which spells out the goals and orientation of the Nigerian Prisons Service, prisons are charged with taking custody of those legally detained, identifying causes of their behaviour and retraining them to become useful citizens in the society. Apart from keeping inmates in custody, the prison officials hardly do any other thing as they are apparently not interested in the rationale behind the actions that got the inmates into prisons or bothered about retraining them.

Davids (2011) states that in other climes, there is a difference between a jail and a prison; a jail is a transitional facility for those undergoing legal proceedings, those awaiting judgment on their trial. A prison, on the other hand, is for those whose judicial fate has been decided; those who have been convicted. Therefore, those whose trials are in progress and those whose trials have been decided should not ordinarily cohabit in the same facilities. However, Nigerian Tribune (2011) revealed that in Nigeria, the same correctional facilities are used both as jails and prisons in the country.

There is no categorization as those undergoing trial (called awaiting trial in local parlance), convicts and those already condemned to death are treated equally. They are all lumped together in various cells and stripped of their dignity. This is really because like all facilities in the country, the prisons amenities have been stretched beyond their original capacities. So, those undergoing trial are not treated any differently from those already convicted despite the fact that they might end up being left off the hook. Thus, the prisons are brimming with inmates as there are more inmates than the original capacity of the prisons. For instance, the total inmates in the prisons in Lagos State are by far more than the number the prisons are meant to accommodate. As of Tuesday 18th of October 2011, there were 5,370 inmates at the Badagry Prison, Kirikiri Maximum, Kirikiri Medium, Kirikiri Female and Ikoyi prisons instead of the 2,945 they were built to rehabilitate (Davids, 2011).

A further breakdown of the inmates in Lagos prisons by the Nigerian Tribune shows that 4,440 of all the total inmates are awaiting trial and are, therefore, not part of the plans of prison officials. The only thing that they get from the prison officials is food. They are not trained or allowed to undergo any vocational work. Just 936 inmates had been convicted and are facing jail terms, with about 70 of them condemned to death.

Quite different from the physical conception, there are other schools of thought that are based on function, framework and label. From the functional perspective, a prison is perceived as a place to punish offenders, where criminals that are removed from the society are dumped to protect the society from further criminal activities of the offenders; and a place to rehabilitate, and teach offenders to be law abiding and productive after their release. Prisons are also perceived as a total institution, from the perspective of framework. (Okunola, 1986 and Goffman, 1961; quoted in Davids 2011).

Prison as an institution is a place unlike free environment or community, houses those who are socially rejected, insane or mentally retarded. It is also said to be an institution where there is a basic split between a large class of individuals who are restricted contact with outside world and stereotypical behavioural pattern where social mobility is restricted. Yet from the labeling point of view, the prison is a place for vagrants, who may pose actual danger to social life in the larger society, which pre-supposes that every person in the prison is a vagrant and irresponsible person (Ojo, 2007).However, in the past few decades, the conception about the Prisons seem to be changing at least in the minds of some people, especially with reference to the erroneous idea that people in the prisons are dregs of the society. This means that it is not only the guilty that are found in the prisons, only some prisoners actually committed offences they are alleged to have committed. This is true of the Nigerian situation where it has become “acceptable” to have most of the prison yards overflowing with awaiting trial inmate population (Nnamdi, 2013). Onyekachi (2010) records that Prison institutions in Nigeria among others in the criminal justice system perform the following basic functions of; keeping safe custody of convicted persons and suspects as well as execute sentences passed on individuals by the courts, ensuring the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates through moral training, education and offering them opportunities to develop other potentials and skills for effective reintegration into the society on discharge, ensuring the welfare of inmates through the provision of good health care, feeding, clothing and recreational facilities in order to create the enabling environment for reformation and rehabilitation programmes.

The History of Nigerian Prisons

Contrary to the assumption of many, the Prisons System has been around long before the amalgamation of 1914. From mere detention Centers to Native Authority prisons and to the current Federal system we have today, the Prisons in Nigeria have come a long way. The origin of modern Prisons Service in Nigeria is 1861. That was the year when conceptually, Western-type prison was established in Nigeria. The declaration of Lagos as a colony in 1861 marked the beginning of the institution of formal machinery of governance. At this stage the preoccupation of the colonial government was to protect legitimate trade, guarantee the profit of British merchants as well as guarantee the activities of the missionaries (Oluwakuyide, 2011).

The prisons in Nigeria are run solely by the federal government. This means that Nigerian prisons are governed by federal laws. In pursuance of the powers conferred on the position of the Controller-General of Prisons by Section 16 (1) (a) and (b), Cap. P.29 LFN 2004, the Nigerian Prisons Standing Order is brought into law. The Nigerian prison laws otherwise known as Nigerian Prisons Standing Order are divided into the following parts:

·         Staff;

·         Administration of Prison; and

·         Organization and Control.

The Prison regulation was published in 1917 to prescribe admission, custody, treatment and classification procedures as well as staffing, dieting and clothing regimes for the prisons. These processes were limited in one very general sense. They were not geared towards any particular type of treatment of inmates. Instead they represent just policies of containment of those who were already in prison. Besides, they were limited in application to those who were convicted or remanded in custody by criminal courts of the British-inspired supreme or provincial types. It was not until 1934 that any meaningful attempt was made to introduce relative modernization into the Prison Service.

There have been massive transformations in the Service since 1972. It has undergone some reorganization from its modest three Directorates in 1980 to six Directorates in 1993. There was the 1986 reorganization of the Prisons consequent upon the creation of the Customs, Immigrations and Prisons Board and centralization of the administrations of these paramilitary Services in the Board. There was also the removal of the Services from the Civil Service in 1992. It now has a command structure that boast of 8 Zonal commands, 36 State Commands, 1 FCT Command, 144 Prisons including farm centers and 83 Satellite Prisons. It also has four Training Schools, one Staff College and 2 Borstal Institutions. The big question is whether or not the Nigerian Prison system has lived up to its billings as a reformatory Institution and its attendant issues, recidivism, challenges, threats if any, in line with her objectives.

The Enugu Prisons

The Enugu Prison was established in 1915 and its capacity originally was built for 638 inmates however, the current population of the inmates stands at 2375. It is imperative to note that out of this figures, about 1618 are awaiting trials inmates that is those not yet convicted. This, to my mind is overpopulated.

The researcher also found out that the Enugu Prison had a Bolster home which was more like a youth detention camp and an adult correction facility situated at Enugu Ngwo. It is considered a place for first offenders for the purposes of reforming and integrating them into the society. The Bolster home was created in 1933 and by the end of the civil war in 1970, it was scrapped off.

Nigerian criminal Justice is given its legal foundation through the constitution, most especially the portion of the constitution which relates to the powers of the court, or jurisdictional mandate of the courts. Sections of the constitution such as fundamental human rights particularly the provisions on right to liberty, right to fair hearing which deals with criminal justice. The state, in using its power to convict a person who has committed a crime must at the same time comply or respect the constitutional provisions on human rights (Wale, 2006).There have been a lot of changes/reforms in the Nigerian Prison Services. Emeka (2011) details the Nigerian Prisons Reform processes when he noted that in the recent times, the intention to reform Nigerian prison system can be traced back to June 2001 by the government of the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, when they proposed to review prison laws and prison reforms, train personnel, rehabilitate inmates and revitalize the prison system with the Prison Reforms Program. This was against the realization of the conditions in the Nigerian prisons, especially those of the awaiting trial which president Olusegun Obasanjo described as inhuman. Since 2000, in order to actualize the mission to reform the prisons, the preliminary steps taken include the establishment of several working groups and committees on prison reforms.

Although Fred (2015) and Amaduh (2013) as quoted in Eva (2015) praise the Nigerian prisons for being able to improve significantly in the last few years which according to them has made the Nigerian prisons institutions to become ones that can actually transform inmates if well managed, other authors think otherwise! For instance, Nnamdi (2015) and Ted (2015) found that, an observation of the population of persons that goes back into the prisons facilities after their initial release shows that there may be some problems in the system, hence the prisons may not have been able to live up to its expected role in Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

One of the major objectives of the establishment of Prison facilities in all parts of the world including Nigeria is to not only punish those who have broken the law but also to provide a centre for the rehabilitation and/or reformation for these persons so that they can be useful both to themselves and society at large after their jail terms. As Charles (2009), Ben (2010) and Davids (2011) stated, prisons are established for the purpose of reforming the prisoners to be better than what they were before they were imprisoned, rehabilitate the prisoners in order to equip them with new skills or improve on their old ones, and seclude criminals from the rest of the society, pending when they have atoned for their crimes.

In line with this objective, successive administrations in Nigeria, in one way or the other have delved into the provision of necessary infrastructure/facilities and other logistics including transportation services and general skills acquisition programmes in order to make the prisons very functional.  

However, the extent to which the objectives of government for establishing the prison reform activities have been achieved in Nigeria is not clear. There have been increasing cases of new recidivists in the last few years. For instance, in 2013, there were 5 new recidivists. The number of new recidivists increased to 8 in 2014 and 10 in 2015. In fact, out of 2,375 Prison inmates in Enugu Prisons as at 2015, as many as 203 (7.4%) were Recidivists. This growing trend is indicative of the fact that perhaps, the Prison reformatory efforts may not have been very effective in Enugu Prisons.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study therefore is to evaluate the effect of Prison reformatory capacity on recidivism in Nigeria.          

The specific objectives of this study are;

1.      To ascertain the effects of Prison reformatory activities on Recidivism in Enugu Prison.

2.      To determine the most important factors that contributes to recidivism.

1.4   Research Questions

1.      What effect does prisons human capacity building programme have on recidivism in Enugu state?

2.      What are the most important factors that contribute to recidivism?

1.5  Hypotheses of the Study (Alternative)

H01:     Prisons reformatory activities have no significant reducing effect on recidivism in Enugu state, Nigeria.

H02:     There are no significant factors contributing to recidivism in Enugu state.

1.6  Significance of the Study

The study will be of great benefit to Nigerian Prison Services as they will come to know the reformatory effects they have on the prisoners. This study will help them to restructure their strategies if need be. This research report will also benefit researchers, who will use it for reference purposes in future studies. In the same vein, the study will help policy makers, both in the respective government departments and/or parastatals do a better job by making them realize and/or understand some of the best strategies and directives to employ in their job of policy-making.

1.7       Scope of the Study

This work is only concerned with the task of identifying the reformatory effects of Nigerian prison facilities on the prisoners with particular reference to Enugu Prisons. It also sought to find the positivity of the educational/enlightenment programmes of Nigerian prisons.

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