Prison Privatization: A Solution to Prison Overcrowding

Written by David Chibueze Njoku, Esq.



We cannot overstate the fact that Nigeria suffers from a collapsed reformatory and correctional system. Prominent among the many and myriads of issues with the system is the overcrowding of our remedial and correctional centers.

As at the last count, Nigeria has well over 75,000 (Seventy Five Thousand) inmates captured under the National Security Database. It is also on record that 71% of these inmates are awaiting trial while only 29% of them are convicted inmates.

The Nigeria Correctional Service formerly known as the Nigeria Prison Service which is charged with the responsibility of managing inmates in Nigeria has been overburdened with too many inmates, over and above the number that the facilities provided can carry.

Too many times or better put, often than not, the failure of our judicial system and the delays in dispensation of justice by the Nigerian Judiciary contribute to the larger part of why our correctional facilities have much more inmates than is required. Added to that is the irresponsible actions of various law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.

From indiscriminate arrest of persons without due process, lack of thorough investigations and interrogation of suspects before arrest and lack of the will to prosecute matters as soon as they arise without delays and zero sense of urgency as required in criminal prosecution, all contribute to the gross abuse of human rights of inmates and other innocent Nigerian citizens in violation of their inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and other international documents, treaties and charters including the United Nation Charter on Human Rights 1948 duly domiciled within our jurisdiction through the act of the National Assembly.

It must also be noted that the dearth of infrastructure to meet our rising population and the failure of successive governments to erect new, modernized and expansive detention centers or better still maintain the existing ones, contribute the most to why our detention centers are overcrowded and has become a hub of many untoward things.

This presentation is an attempt to evaluate the role that prison privatization and involvement of the private sector within the field can play in order to address the obvious deficits and challenge of prison overcrowding in Nigeria.


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