I’m meant to understand that a prison serves as a form of rehabilitation where inmates are expected to turn from a life of evil or crime to a life of law abiding citizens once released.
Better put, incarcerating one is a measure that should act as a deterrent to crime, though some research carried out especially in North America has disputed this hypothesis given the high recidivism rates.
Talk of town today is about the many senior government officials who have lost the luxury that comes along with their offices to test the darker side of confinement.
Infact because of this high “turnover” in the power circles, our oldest prison, “Kigali 1930” has been baptised a new name “Kigali 0830,” representing MTN’s previous first four digits for post paid lines.
These lines are normally associated with high government officials and big shots in the corporate world.
The insinuation behind this new naming is that our oldest prison has turned into a second bedroom for mainly government officials, whose appetite for state resources can be equated to that of a hyena drooping over a carcass.
I have keenly followed the recent arrests of some officials from local government, central government and the private sector over this vice that I think is ably being contained.
The only question that has come to my mind is; why should we pile culprits convicted for corruption in prisons? Isn’t this losing twice?
The chaps sit idly in prison, feed on tax payer’s sweat and eventually emerge out of incarceration to invest their catch.
Going back to what I started with, if indeed prison is meant to be a rehabilitation process, one where a convict will emerge out to be a better member of society, surely what reform does an old man like Bikoro Munyanganizi, 60 years and over need?
As our Kinyarwanda adage, “ikiti gikororwa kikiri gito,” what “straightening” are you going to bring to a man in the evening of his age?
But again, can we let such people free? Certainly not.
I find TIG as the best option for all those convicted on corruption.
First it would ensure that the convicts pay back to communities in form of hard labour. Probably because some of them have just fallen into “things,” (since a good chunk of them are from abroad), they would experience first hand, the hardship that ordinary citizens go through to pay their dues in form of taxes, which end up in their pockets.
Secondly, the government would not be losing twice. That is; spending billions of francs on upkeep of these culprits who at the same time stole from its (govt) very coffers.
We should simply do this; a district mayor who has pocketed baturage’s hard earned taxes should not be confined for 5 – 10 years in prison but rather 3 years of daily labour constructing terraces.
An official from ministry of infrastructure convicted for stealing money meant for roads could spend five years in a stone quarry, smashing stones to build our murram roads. Better still, he/she could turn into a casual labourer for construction works on government buildings.
A district education official who pockets money meant for schools could end up working on a school farm or in a chalk factory for some specific years without pay.
Instead of Kigali city employing casual labourers to clean our boulevards, such a job could be done, free of charge by a journalist convicted on extorting money from their sources or members of the private sector found guilty of bribing.
This way, the productivity of these convicts could in one way or another compensate for the millions that they illegally pocket.
Government loses more when these convicts are fed for free, provided free medical services, free accommodation---with their own job sitting idly in confinement.
Recall that the emerging strategy or trend for most of these culprits is to swallow their loot, serve 4-5 years in prison, while their wives or next of kin are investing the pillage.
Once their prison term end, they emerge in “Mateus” or “Commerciale” as new undisputed members of our private sector.
Let’s amend our laws on corruption, probably shorten prison terms by mixing punishment with TIG activities. That way, the tax payer will not lose twice.
Long prison terms can be left for the rapists, defilers, and genocidaires and so on.