The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
FEMALE prisoners should be eligible for home leave while serving their jail terms and an open prison system would go a long way in preventing the disruption of their lives while they are incarcerated, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi has said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Senior Assistant Commissioner Commanding Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Lambart Janah yesterday at the Africa Prisons and Correctional Day Commemorations at Khami Prison yesterday, Comm-Gen Zimondi said an open prison system would help in the further rehabilitation of prisoners. He said such a step would be the continuation of reformative steps that began with the liberation of Zimbabwe in 1980.
“Our strides towards reform as a country have always been progressive beginning in 1980 and are marked by significant changes. For instance, in the year 2005 the ZPCS crafted a Rehabilitation Policy in an endeavour to spearhead the rehabilitation thrust. Such an effort was cemented by the rebranding of the organisation in the year 2013 as I have already alluded to earlier on . . . On a related note, in our efforts in modernising our approach in correctional management systems this saw us, soon after the country’s independence, establishing a more humane correctional centre that is the Connemara Open Prison which houses male inmates but we have not stopped as plans are also ongoing to establish other open prison facilities for females across the provinces.
“Government has already approved sites in Marondera and Mutare to start with. Progress on the implementation in this regard is being delayed by inadequacies in the resource base. However, as soon as resources permit, execution of the projects would commence in earnest,” he said.
Comm-Gen Zimondi said such a system would be to the benefit of female prisoners.
“In the same vein ladies and gentlemen, let me highlight the importance of establishing open prisons to female inmates. Females are very important and sensitive constituent within our communities, whose roles favour that they are in constant touch with family and the community as opposed to outright incarceration. Furthermore, the open prison system is more conducive for facilitating inmates’ rehabilitation and successful reintegration given that it is at most serving as a halfway home.
“In this regard, inmates go on home leave while serving their prison terms thereby ensuring that family relations and ties are kept open and intact. As inmates go on home leave they interact and stay with their families thus preparing for their release. Upon release, they will not be new persons hence the re-integration process would have commenced while one would be serving his/her prison term,” he said.
Comm-Gen Zimondi said for this to become a reality, the reformation of the ZPCS needed to continue. The participation of well-wishers and members of civic society was crucial in making this a reality.
“Ladies and gentlemen may I be quick to point out our strides in achieving our vision which is ‘to become a leading correctional service provider in the region and beyond,’ resonates well with ACSA’S clarion call for reform and is being aided by significant responses for reform and is being aided by significant responses for collaborative engagements with our development partners and stakeholders that include civic and faith based organisations and the corporate world as well as some individuals whom we have called through our open door policy.
“Thus with this in mind we continuously appeal and insist on our invitations to the communities to continue with such commendable gestures by working with us in programmes that promote successful rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders,” he said.