The Commissioner-General of Uganda Prisons Services Dr Johnson Byabashaija has called for a budget increase for the Police investigations department and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution as a way of reducing congestion in prisons.
While speaking during the passing out of 2018 warders and wardress on Friday at the Kololo ceremonial grounds, Byabashaija said, currently Uganda Prison Services is facing a challenge of congestion and if the investigative arm of Police and DPP’s office are given enough money, investigations will be done in time and the number of inmates on remand causing congestion will reduce.
According to Dr Byabashaija, the congestion challenge is worsened by those inmates on remand. Currently, the prison service is holding over 68,000 against the current official capacity which is 20,000 and 52 per cent of the current capacity are on remand.
“Our congestion at the moment is 360 percent because it impacts on the mobility and the mortality of the inmates. It also impacts on the health of these staff. We need to cut down the number of inmates on remand by ensuring that Police and other parties do their investigations in time. For example, if a suspect is caught for stealing cows or goats, why should this person spend 6 months in prison awaiting trial?” he asked.
However, while replying to him, President Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, asked Prison services and Police to start constructing prison facilities by themselves as a way of avoiding the costly procurement processes.
“Uganda Prisons, Uganda Police let us stop this business of crying for more prisons, let’s build them and let the demand be raw materials,” said Museveni.
The occupancy level of prisons across the country is currently 260 per cent. Most of the prison wards are overcrowded, housing up to at least 4 times their designed holding capacities. Congestion in prisons has resulted in poor hygiene, an outbreak of diseases and strikes in prisons as the prisoners continue to compete for the little resources.
A few years ago, Uganda prisons was ranked the 7th most congested prison in the world and the 4th most congested in Africa by the International Journal of Criminology released this week.
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