Thursday, April 22, 2021

Commissioner of Prisons ‘unlocks’ the second prison

The Commissioner of the Botswana Prisons Services (BPS) has said that there is need for partnership with all stakeholders to unlock the second prison by facilitating improved understanding of imprisonment as well as ownership of rehabilitation and reintegration programs of inmates.

Silas Motlalekgosi expressed satisfaction on major achievements of the BPS, such as great leadership support, amendment of the Prisons Act and also improved conditions of service for officers.

The Commissioner further stated that the BPS had improved with the introduction of computerization processes, introduction of case management and also improvement of vehicle fleet and electronic gadgets.

Addressing members of the media recently at Gaborone Maximum prison, Motlalekgosi pointed out that the core mandate of the department is dual as in providing safe and humane custody of offenders as well as rehabilitation of offenders and re-integration.

He added that the dual mandate is administered through the Prisons Act and other relevant pieces of the Legislature, including Human Rights Laws and International Conventions.

“Who holds the master key, it is the community though the media is needed to unlock second prison as well as families, neighbours, friends, employers, community and churches,” said Motlalekgosi.
The Commissioner pointed out that the Department’s major challenges are overcrowding, escapes, infrastructure and also attack on staff. He further revealed that the list includes the smuggling in of contraband, directing unlawful activities from within as well as corruption of officers. He added that the general public’s understanding and perception is another area of concern.

“We are a security department with a social responsibility also commonly referred to as the tail end of the Criminal Justice System in Botswana,” Motlalekgosi stated.

He further said that challenges that have a direct influence on the Prison service including the living conditions, security situation, human Rights, rehabilitation as well as public understanding.

“Prison rehabilitation is a challenge and if you don’t keep him busy, he will keep you busy,” he said.

Motlalekgosi stated that rehabilitation programs offer opportunities for self improvement, possibly helping inmates to function more productively in their communities upon release. He said the programs fall into three categories being activity focused, reformative, which include industrial skills, psychosocial counselling, education and health. He pointed out the last stage as reintegration, which is the pre-release workshops and restorative justice.

“It is not my decision to provide condoms in prisons for the inmates and I cannot go against the policy in place. Sodomy is classified as a criminal offence,” said Motlalekgosi.

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