DECLINING PRISON FACILITIES AS IMPEDIMENT TO THE REHABILITATION OF OFFENDERS

DECLINING PRISON FACILITIES AS IMPEDIMENT TO THE REHABILITATION OF OFFENDERS

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ABSTRACT

The study was designed to establish whether declining prison facilities interfered with the rehabilitation of offenders in Ikoyi prison, Lagos State, Nigeria. An approach drawing from both quantitative and qualitative methodologies was adopted. A cross-sectional survey and in-depth interview of prisoners enabled the exploration of specific objectives formulated around the purpose of the study, which included the need to know how ‘needs assessment and classification of offenders correlated with their progress in the rehabilitation process’, and ‘the effect of improved prison industry on the creation of jobs opportunities for the interned offenders’. A probability sampling technique was adopted for the study. Thus, simple random sampling method was used to select a sample size of 183 inmate-respondents from a total of 1,835 inmate population in Ikoyi prison. Also, non-probability sampling technique was adopted in the study to select ten (10) prison personnel, and ten (10) inmates, using quota sampling method. In total, 20 respondents were selected for the in-depth interview. Quantitative and qualitative data generated during the study were analysed using frequency distribution tables and simple percentage, andcontent analysis.The study found no positive correlation between needs assessment and classification of offenders and their progress in rehabilitation process, inmates who participated in vocational education and training were less likely to reoffend, inmates tortured by prison officers were more likely to be driven toward collective behaviour, improved prison industry would create job opportunities for inmates.The study concluded that there was a constant increase in the prevalence of recidivism; especially among male inmates and that most crimes¸ patterns of relationships and behavioural predispositions were offender specific. Recommendations were made.

CHAPTER ONE

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

1.0INTRODUCTION   

Since the inception of the modern criminal justice system, a persistent response to the question of what to do with offenders has been to rehabilitate them in the mainstream of social life (Paranjape, 2011: 463). Prisons are usually structured to identify the peculiar problems of each inmate and device means of guiding him or her out of the problem. Although prisons are considered as the most widely used institutions of correctional administration but their role has been a subject of severe criticism and scrutiny from the point of view of rehabilitation of prisoners (or offenders) (Ugwuoke, 2010 and Paranjape, 2011). An observation of the population that goes in and out of the prisons shows that there are some problems in the system; hence, the prison system has not been able to achieve the ultimate goal of rehabilitation.

More than half of a century ago, Gresham Sykes wrote that “life in the maximum security prison is depriving or frustrating in the extreme” (Sykes, 1958:63), and little has changed to alter that view. Indeed, sykes’s observation is perhaps more meaningful now than he first made it, because prison facilities in many parts of the world are in poor condition (Cavadini and Dignan 2002; 2006; 2007/13). The disrepair is such that even in European countries, where prisons are generally considered good, prisoners are ‘simmering on the point of riot or rebellion’ (Cavadino and Dignan 2006: 43). The discontent is not only with their fellow inmates, but also with prison staff, who are often demoralized, disaffected and restless (Cavadino and Dignan 2006). A prison is not expected to be exactly a bed of roses (as the inmates are there for penal purposes), neither is it supposed to be a bed of thorns and thistles meant to snuff life out of the occupants.Edwin James wrote that “prison experience for the inmates in the main consists of enforced idleness and an obligation to conform to behaviour which primarily is aimed at maintaining the smooth operation of the institution and less about assisting offenders with their problems, or helping them to desist from crime (James, 2006: 19-27). This may have prompted scholars such as Edgar et al. (2011: 3) to argue that “prisons conspire to create model inmates rather than model citizens”.

Whilst Prison facilities in Africa are moving toward behaviour change approaches for inmate rehabilitation in the same way as their European counterpart, the degree of success in their implementation is however inadequate (Tenibiaje, 2010 and Ijaiya, 2009). Although prisons are supposed to be places for transformation and rehabilitation, scholars have adjudged Nigerian prisons a school of crime (Obioha, 1995; Adetula et al., 2010; Tanimu, 2010; Tenibiaje, 2010). Dambazau (2007: 210) has proposed that inmates left unoccupied with positive and constructive activities are likely to engage in vices, such as sale and use of drugs. Despite the fact that approximately half of inmates go on to re-offend when released from prison (Prison Reform Trust, 2011: 26) as a growing body of evidence has suggested (Soyombo, 2009; Wilson, 2009; Ministry of Justice, 2010; National Bureau of Statistics, 2010 and Abrifor et al. 2010), much of what is done within prisons is not based on sound evidence but, rather, on custom, bureaucratic convenience, and political ideology (James 2006; Lipsey and Cullen, 2007: 3).

The recurring relationship between imprisonment, release and recidivism has ensured that policy makers have given this subject considerable attention over the past two decades in particular. “[N]early three in five prisoners are re-convicted within two years of leaving prison” (Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP, ‘foreword’ to McEvoy, 2008: 4). Of the offenders released in 2004 in Britain, 58% were convicted of another crime within two years (Home Office 2007: 1). In 2009, 90% of the adults receiving a custodial sentence in the United Kingdom had previously been convicted on at least one prior occasion. According to the Ministry of Justice’s November 2010 Compendium of Reoffending Statistics, 20% of the offenders who were discharged from custody between January and March 2000 had been reconvicted within three months (Ministry of Justice, 2010). This figure rose to 43% after a year, 55% after 2 years and 68% after 5 years. By 2009, 74% of the initial cohort had been reconvicted (Ministry of Justice, 2010).

An assessment carried out in 2010 by the Director of National Intelligence on former Guantanamo Bay detainees indicated that an estimated 20% of them had re-engaged in criminal activities (Director of National Intelligence, 2010).

Soyombo (2009) reported that the rate of occurrence of criminal recidivism in Nigeria in 2005 was 37.3%. Also, Abrifor et al. (2010) estimated the prevalence of recidivism in Nigerian prisons at 52.4% in 2010. Since then, there has not been any indication that the trend has declined. A report on trend and pattern of recidivism shows that 81% of male criminal inmate offenders and 45% of female criminal inmate offenders were re-arrested within 36 months of discharge/release from the prison custody (Wilson, 2009 and Abrifor et al., 2010).

The figures are even more startling when one considers that young male offender within the age groups of 18 to 20 years in England and Wales were reconvicted at a rate of 64% over the same period (Home Office, 2007: 6). While the reconviction rates in Northern Ireland are only slightly lower for adults (46% within two years), the figure for young offenders (74% within two years) underlines the deeply rooted nature of the problem of recidivism (NIPS/NIPB Resettlement Strategy, 2003: 5, cited in McEvoy, 2008: 4).

A study on the offender’ educational experience and learning needs showed that in the prison population, a lack of basic skills is common: 48% of prisoners have a reading age at or below the level of an 11 year old (this increases to 65% for numeracy and 82% for writing skills), half of all prisoners do not have the skills required by 96% of jobs and only 1 in 5 can complete an application form (Prison Reform Trust, 2009). In 2005, the Department for Education and Skills reported that 52% of male prisoners and 71% of female prisoners had no qualifications at all (Department for Education and Skills, 2005). The lack of qualifications and difficulties with communication are parts of the explanation of high levels of offender unemployment – 13 times higher for offenders than in the general population. Furthermore, studies have reiterated that the majority of prisoners worldwide come from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Poverty, unemployment, lack of housing, broken families, histories of psychological problems and mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence are realities that are likely to be found in most offenders’ lives (Belenko, 2002; James and Kenneth, 2004; Zhang, 2004; United Nations, 2006; Przybylski, 2008; Reichert, 2010; Chaturvedi, 2006, cited in Paranjape, 2011, and Pettit, 2012). According to Hawley et al. (2013: 5), among the 640,000 prison population in the E.U., there are a significant proportion of low-skilled Europeans. “Even though there are no exact data on the qualification levels of prisoners, it has been estimated that only three to five per cent (3 to 5%) of them would be qualified to undertake higher education, and in many countries there is a high instance of early school leaving among prisoners” (Hawley et al., 2013).

Tanimu (2010) has found that a typical convict in Nigerian Prison is a semi-literate male in the prime of his youth (18-29 years). He is most likely convicted for committing property-related crime. Occupationally, he is either unemployed or self-employed in the lowest occupational ladder.

The reasons given for re-offending are many, but as suggested in the following quote, vocational education, training and employment are internationally identified as pathways out of the recidivistic life of crime: “While many factors contribute to re-offending, offenders and ex-offenders tend to have skills levels well below those of the general population, and are much more likely to be unemployed” (Department for Education and Skills, 2005: 6), yet sustained employment is a key to leading a crime-free life. Low levels of qualifications have important negative effects on prisoners' employment prospects upon release, which has been found to be one of the key factors influencing whether or not ex-convicts re-offend. Thus, the provision of basic skills education, and particularly, vocational training, in prisons has an important role to play in the reintegration process of prisoners. However, as noted by the European prison rules, it is important to provide educational opportunities, which meet the needs of individual prisoners. This includes providing education and training also for those who have higher prior educational attainment (Hawley et al., 2013).

Maxfield and Babbie (2008: 122) define recidivism as the re-occurrence of criminal behaviour. According to Scott and Marshall (2005: 552), recidivism is the conviction of crime on more than one occasion; thus, a recidivist is a person who re-offends (Scott and Marshall, 2005: 552). According to Maxfield and Babbie (2008), the rate of recidivism should be calculated by counting the number of prison release or by counting the numbers of offenders placed under community supervision who are re-incarcerated for technical violation or new offence within a uniform period of at-risk street time. According to Scott and Marshall (2005: 552), recidivism is measured in relation to the type of last sentence or last offence, as percentages re-offending, or re-convicted.

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF PRISON

Historians have documented the existence of prisons in ancient Greece and Rome. For example, the Mamertine Prison, constructed in Rome in the 7th century B.C., consisted of a vast network of dungeons under the city’s main sewer (Champion, 2009). These subterranean cells held political dissidents and criminals for short periods of time in cramped, miserable conditions. However, the practice of confining wrongdoers for long periods as a form of punishment was not widespread until after the 15th century (Champion, 2009).

With the march of time and advancement of knowledge and civilization, the conditions of prisons also improved considerably. Since the present day penology centres round imprisonment as a measure of rehabilitation of offenders, the prisons are no longer mere detention houses for the offenders but they seek to reform inmates for their future life. The modern techniques of punishment lay greater emphasis on reformation, correction and rehabilitation of offenders (paranjape, 2011: 418). The modern prison system in Nigeria is essentially based on the British prison model which in itself is an outcome of prison development in America during the late eighteenth century.

THE ORIGIN OF PRISONS IN NIGERIA

The origin of modern prisons service in Nigeria is traceable to 1861 (Nigerian Prisons Service, 2013). The progressive incursion of the British into the hinterland and the establishment of British protectorate toward the end of the nineteenth century necessitated the establishment of the prisons as the last link in the Criminal Justice System (Elias, 1967). Prisons modelled on the one first established in Lagos in 1872 spread across the country in line with the gradual expansion of the colonial jurisdiction and in 1876, the prison ordinances came into force (PTS Kaduna, 1991). Thus, in 1910, there already were prisons in Degema, Calabar, Onitsha, Benin, Ibadan, Sapele, Jebba and Lokoja (Orakwe, 2014). In 1920, a Commission was set up to report on prison conditions and in 1932; a borstal was established in Enugu (Egu, 1990; PTS Kaduna, 1991: 14). The prisoners were in the main used for public works and other jobs for the colonial administration (Arthur, 1991). According to Orakwe (2014), it was not until 1934 that any meaningful attempt was made to introduce relative modernization into prison service. It was at this time that Colonel V. L. Mabb was appointed Director of Prisons by the then Governor, Sir Donald Cameron (Orakwe, 2014).

NIGERIAN PRISONS TODAY

The abolition of Native Authority Prisons on the 1st of April, 1968 and the subsequent unification of the Prisons Service in Nigeria therefore marked the beginning of the Nigerian Prisons Service. In 1971, the government white paper on the reorganization of the prison was released. The establishment and growth of the prison is backed by various statutes, amongst which was the Prison Act No. 9 of 1972 (Nigerian Prisons Service, 1979; Orakwe, 2014), which was reviewed in 1990 and is currently under review. The Act, which is known as CAP 366, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1990, defines itself as ‘an act to make comprehensive provisions for the administration of prisons in Nigeria and other matters ancillary thereto’ (Nigerian Prisons Service, 1990: 1). The prison is charged, inter alia, with the responsibility of taking custody of those legally detained, identifying causes of their behaviour and retraining them to become useful citizens in the society (Federal Government of Nigeria, 1990: 3-5; Orakwe, 2014). From the foregoing, it seems clear that though the Decree makes secure custody the first role of the prisons, it also makes it explicit that reform and rehabilitation are the ultimate aims of the Prison Service.

Today, there are 235 prisons across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with a total capacity of 47,284. The inmate population has gradually grown from 43,312 to about 54,144 (male 53,069, female 1,075), with approximately 25,000 personnel (http://www.prisons.gov.ng/about/history.php). The Prisons Service now has a command structure that boasts of 8 zonal commands, 36 states commands, 1 FCT command, 144 prisons including farm centres and 83 satellite prisons. It also has four training schools, one Staff College and 2 Borstal Institutions (Orakwe, 2014).

The above history, though clearly partial, is important to consider as: “[T]he correspondence between the ideal models of state institutions and their actual operation is complicated by the very process through which they come into being” (Aguirre, 2005: 11). We should not forget however that state institutions do not come into being once and for all; they are always in a process of coming into being. It is this fact that makes it imperative to focus analysis on ‘their actual operation’, their practices as well as their purported values or penal philosophies.

Whilst educational provision for offenders usually has the primary aim of reducing reoffending, the association between a lack of basic skills and offending is, as we have seen, not readily demonstrated (Harper and Chitty, 2005). Education does however have much further reaching benefits that may have more indirect, but no less significant impacts. Oreh (2006) rightly observed that education in prison is necessary because its provision will make the prisons become places of continuous and informal learning rather than ‘schools of crime’. Although there is very little research in Nigeria on prisons education (for example, Yakubu, 2002; Mango, 2006; Oreh, 2006; Evawoma-Enuku, 2006), inter-state research and international meta-analyses demonstrate the significant contribution that education and employment make to the reduction in reoffending rates. According to the Nigerian Prison Service Manual (2011), the realization of the object of rehabilitation of convicted offenders is to be done through a complicated set of mechanisms consisting among others: conscientiousness, group work, case work session, recreational activities, religious services and adult and remedial education programmes, educational development project, skills acquisition programme, mid-range industrial production, agricultural service and after-care service programme. The prison’s services providers should not only identify the causes of the prisons’ inmates anti-social behaviour but also endeavours to set them on the road to reform through induced self-rediscovery and eventual change for the better.

According to Federal Government of Nigeria (1989), some of the specific objectives of rehabilitative services in Nigerian prisons are to: ensure effective management of crisis situation of the prison inmates; an appropriate training for the prison inmates in order to reduce dependency; and promote the provision of adequate and accessible recreational and sporting facilities for the prison inmates. Rehabilitation services in Nigerian prisons therefore, should be aimed at increasing the educational and vocational skills of inmates, and their chances of success upon release. In order to accomplish these goals, prison inmates are encouraged to participate in rehabilitative programmes made available to them while in prison. This is crucial for prison inmates especially because many of them entered the prisons more socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged (Chaturvedi, 2006; Paranjape 2011; Pettit, 2012). The key to success in a free society for many of these socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged prison inmates is rehabilitation. There is no better way to help prison inmates re-enter the larger society successfully and break the in-and-out of jail cycle than to provide them with skills that they need to succeed on the outside world. Schuller (2009) describes how offenders often lack human, social and identity capital, and that engaging them in education can help on all three of these levels beyond increasing their ability to acquire qualifications (human capital). Clark and Dugdale (2008) assert that learning and skills might contribute something even more fundamental than reducing re-offending. Improving literacy skills might have the “potential for restoring to society those people who are excluded from full citizenship because they have yet to attain functional literacy. In short, reading interventions for offenders are justified not by reference to human wrongs but by reference to human rights” (Rice and Brooks, 2004: 2). Brooks similarly writes “Western governments … place less emphasis, but should place more, on the need for good basic skills as a human right so that everyone can fulfil their potential and therefore take a full role as private individuals, citizens, family members and employees – and probably earn more” (Brooks, 2010: 191). Enhanced personal development should be the central goal of learning (Schuller, 2009); and being individually empowering (Reuss, 1999); learning can have very positive effects on mental health (Field, 2009). Furthermore, offenders could benefit from acquiring the ability to better manage their own health needs (substance abuse, mental health) including learning to use health services to good effect (Schuller 2009). Research on offender perceptions, although limited, has highlighted some of the potential wider positive impacts of basic skills learning programmes, such as gains in self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation; having access to computers; and receiving encouragement for their progress (Adult Learning Inspectorate, 2004). Educational achievement, then, can have more than just direct, instrumental benefits. Arts based courses may have a distinct and important contribution to make, not least through links made with charities and voluntary organisations. Research into the impact of music based programmes for offenders in prisons found clear benefits and improvements in engagement with education more widely, interpersonal skills, improvements in social skills and relationships with prison staff and a decrease in aggressive behaviours. Some of the important features identified by offenders and staff which were seen to contribute to these benefits were participation in shaping the learning experiences, negotiating with others and sharing achievement through performance (Wilson et al., 2009).

The above history, though clearly partial, is important to consider as: “[T]he correspondence between the ideal models of state institutions and their actual operation is complicated by the very process through which they come into being” (Aguirre, 2005: 11). We should not forget however that state institutions do not come into being once and for all; they are always in a process of coming into being. It is this fact that makes it imperative to focus analysis on ‘their actual operation’, their practices as well as their purported values or penal philosophies.

Whilst educational provision for offenders usually has the primary aim of reducing reoffending, the association between a lack of basic skills and offending is, as we have seen, not readily demonstrated (Harper and Chitty, 2005). Education does however have much further reaching benefits that may have more indirect, but no less significant impacts. Oreh (2006) rightly observed that education in prison is necessary because its provision will make the prisons become places of continuous and informal learning rather than ‘schools of crime’. Although there is very little research in Nigeria on prisons education (for example, Yakubu, 2002; Mango, 2006; Oreh, 2006; Evawoma-Enuku, 2006), inter-state research and international meta-analyses demonstrate the significant contribution that education and employment make to the reduction in reoffending rates. According to the Nigerian Prison Service Manual (2011), the realization of the object of rehabilitation of convicted offenders is to be done through a complicated set of mechanisms consisting among others: conscientiousness, group work, case work session, recreational activities, religious services and adult and remedial education programmes, educational development project, skills acquisition programme, mid-range industrial production, agricultural service and after-care service programme. The prison’s services providers should not only identify the causes of the prisons’ inmates anti-social behaviour but also endeavours to set them on the road to reform through induced self-rediscovery and eventual change for the better.According to Federal Government of Nigeria (1989), some of the specific objectives of rehabilitative services in Nigerian prisons are to: ensure effective management of crisis situation of the prison inmates; an appropriate training for the prison inmates in order to reduce dependency; and promote the provision of adequate and accessible recreational and sporting facilities for the prison inmates. Rehabilitation services in Nigerian prisons therefore, should be aimed at increasing the educational and vocational skills of inmates, and their chances of success upon release. In order to accomplish these goals, prison inmates are encouraged to participate in rehabilitative programmes made available to them while in prison. This is crucial for prison inmates especially because many of them entered the prisons more socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged (Chaturvedi, 2006; Paranjape 2011; Pettit, 2012). The key to success in a free society for many of these socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged prison inmates is rehabilitation. There is no better way to help prison inmates re-enter the larger society successfully and break the in-and-out of jail cycle than to provide them with skills that they need to succeed on the outside world. Schuller (2009) describes how offenders often lack human, social and identity capital, and that engaging them in education can help on all three of these levels beyond increasing their ability to acquire qualifications (human capital). Clark and Dugdale (2008) assert that learning and skills might contribute something even more fundamental than reducing re-offending. Improving literacy skills might have the “potential for restoring to society those people who are excluded from full citizenship because they have yet to attain functional literacy. In short, reading interventions for offenders are justified not by reference to human wrongs but by reference to human rights” (Rice and Brooks, 2004: 2). Brooks similarly writes “Western governments … place less emphasis, but should place more, on the need for good basic skills as a human right so that everyone can fulfil their potential and therefore take a full role as private individuals, citizens, family members and employees – and probably earn more” (Brooks, 2010: 191). Enhanced personal development should be the central goal of learning (Schuller, 2009); and being individually empowering (Reuss, 1999); learning can have very positive effects on mental health (Field, 2009). Furthermore, offenders could benefit from acquiring the ability to better manage their own health needs (substance abuse, mental health) including learning to use health services to good effect (Schuller 2009). Research on offender perceptions, although limited, has highlighted some of the potential wider positive impacts of basic skills learning programmes, such as gains in self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation; having access to computers; and receiving encouragement for their progress (Adult Learning Inspectorate, 2004). Educational achievement, then, can have more than just direct, instrumental benefits. Arts based courses may have a distinct and important contribution to make, not least through links made with charities and voluntary organisations. Research into the impact of music based programmes for offenders in prisons found clear benefits and improvements in engagement with education more widely, interpersonal skills, improvements in social skills and relationships with prison staff and a decrease in aggressive behaviours. Some of the important features identified by offenders and staff which were seen to contribute to these benefits were participation in shaping the learning experiences, negotiating with others and sharing achievement through performance (Wilson et al., 2009).


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