MINISTER of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo says there is need to build courts and accommodation for judicial staff at Mwembeshi Prison and other correctional service facilities across the country.
Mr. Kampyongo said there was urgent need to build courts of law at correctional service facilities in order to bring them close to the judicial facilities.
He also noted that relocation of Kamwala Remand and Lusaka Central Prison to Mwembeshi would result in a longer distance between the courts and the Prison.
“The relocation of Lusaka Prison and Kamwala Remand to Mwembeshi will obviously solve the issue of congestion because we are building a Modern Prison Facility there, but then, there is a roaming problem of distance between Mwembeshi and Lusaka which can only be solved by building courts at the site,” he said.
The Minister said building courts within prison premises would also cut the cost associated with ferrying remands to the courts of law.
He however admitted that congestion was still a problem in the Zambian Prison setup and that government was still far from resolving inherited legacy problems of inadequate correctional facilities and resources.
Mr. Kampyongo disclosed that government through the Judiciary had already started making short term measures to help solve congestion in prisons.
“As a way of solving congestion in prisons, we will start providing for some selected sentences to be served within one’s community especially for nonviolent offenses and offenders,” he said.
He said technologies to monitor offenders serving their sentences in their communities now existed and that it was easy to track them in case they wanted to escape.
Meanwhile, Lusaka High Court Session Judge Lombe Phiri said there was need to restore dignity to the incarcerated to allow for their smooth integration into society once they left prison.
Ms. Phiri disclosed that there was still high levels of stereotype and stigma on the ex-prisoners in society which made re-integration into society difficult.
“Stereotypes and stigma on the ex-convicts remains high in society, that’s why more than three quarters of ex-convicts end up in prisons within three years of their release,” Ms. Phiri said.
Ms. Phiri also called on various employers not to segregate ex-convicts because they were mostly converted people once they left prisons.
Kachabe Hamatan is a fourth year student of Media Studies at the University of Zambia. He has keen interest in current affairs with specific focus on politics and sports.