Rwanda’s justice sector is pursuing a noble cause

The Justice sector is pursuing a raft of reforms, which include a plan to decongest prisons through more efficiency in dispensation of justice and adoption of new correctional alternatives.

Last week, the Minister for Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye told the Senate that the country will soon adopt electronic ankle devices which allow inmates to be provisionally released under specific conditions, including not traveling outside certain jurisdictions.

And in an Easter message to heads of institutions under the Justice sector, the minister expressed his desire to significantly lower the number of prisons in the coming years. 

Citing the example The Netherlands which managed to halve the number of inmates in ten years (from 20,463 in 2006 to10,102 in 2016), Busingye said:  “I have a dream of this kind of situation. I dream that we can achieve it in this generation or, if we fail, in the next. I find that the seeds are already sown in our crime prevention portfolio, in our SWAP [sector wide approach], in our courage to do systems reengineering, in our community policing portfolio, in our youth against crime clubs, in our human security outreach activities, in our CSO [civil society organisations] and media engagement.”

Rwandan correctional facilities are home to over 65,000 inmates, about 0.54 per cent of the country’s total population. Considering the number of inmates in the country in the immediate aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, it is safe to say that there has been notable progress as far as reducing the number of inmates is concerned. The policy to promote alternative sentencing has helped deal with the problem of crowded prisons.

Justice sector’s continued pursuit of measures that can help further promote correction and rehabilitation of offenders as opposed to punishment is proof that the Government is committed to creating an environment that gives everyone a second chance in life as long as this does not threaten the safety of others.

While people will from time to time find themselves in trouble with the law, it’s important that those who are willing to reform and get a second chance do not squander it, rather draw lessons from that experience and change their ways in a way that benefits them as individuals, their family and the nation.

When citizens spend time behind bars the country loses in different ways and therefore the less people are incarcerated the better for society.

 

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