Economic analyst cautions against releasing prisoners

Lusaka-based Economic Analyst Yusuf Dodia has warned against the prospect that prisoners who are serving life sentences may be released on permission for a short period of time.

This follows President Lungu’s signing of the Zambia Correctional Service Act No. 37 of 2021 into law, which empowers inmates with a brief meaningful leave to visit their families.

Mr. Dodia said this is something that needs to be thought about very carefully because it implies that those eligible are convicts that have been charged and convicted of serious crimes of national security such as murder and armed robbery.

I would be concerned about releasing prisoners because the risk to public safety is increased,

He added.

The Analyst however stated that it is too early to tell whether this move would have an impact on investment and investor confidence in the country as it is something that will need to be observed as time goes on.

The impact on investor confidence will only be shown if the crime rates in the country were to go up as a result of prisoners being released on break,

Mr. Dodia.

He further said there is need to consider whether the country has the capacity to track prisoners once they are released on break as well as bringing them back and at what cost this will be.

Meanwhile, in a statement released to the media , Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) Head of Public Relations Doreen Ngoma clarified that the newly signed Zambia Correctional Service Act does not specify a period of two weeks leave for inmates, contrary to some on-going media reports.

The Act in section 84 (1) states that the President may release on license an inmate serving a term of life imprisonment, subject to conditions specified in the license and may modify or cancel any conditions. The Act further states that the President may, by order, revoke a license of an inmate that has been released,

Ms. Ngoma.

She further said this is not a new law as such a provision was equally contained in the repealed Prisons Act, which also did not specify the period for which an inmate may be away from prison on permission.

Ms. Ngoma has since advised the public to familiarize themselves with the new Correctional Service Act and anything related to the on-going transformation of ZCS.

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