The Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) is seeking support that would make it possible for convicts to walk out of jail equipped with skills that would see them rebuild their lives and avoid being repeat offenders, the service’s Deputy Commissioner General Jeanne Chantal Ujeneza has said.
Addressing members of the parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs, Ujeneza outlined the needs of her institution which she said was determined to change the attitude of those that it’s sent, making them more responsible citizens.
Ujeneza said RCS continues to face a logistical challenge when convicts require medical attention saying that it also has security risks.
“If we had health facilities within the premises, it would significantly improve security and cut down on the logistical challenges. Transporting inmates to Muhima, Kibagabaga, Kanombe, Ndera, CHUK hospitals and supplying their meals when they are admitted is tasking,” she said.
She however pointed out that discussions were ongoing with the Ministry of Health to set up what she termed as ‘medicalized health centers’ within the premises that are equipped with doctors that can care for non-surgical cases.
Ujeneza said that while RCS was committed to supporting all those interested in pursuing their education while incarcerated, there was still a challenge in following up those released after they have performed well.
“We have a good record, especially with the juveniles, but we still have a challenge where the children pardoned are released and most don’t continue with their education, others cannot be tracked and the rest go back to being housemaids,” she said.
She called on stakeholders, especially religious and local leaders, to help follow-up on these youths and encourage them to continue with their education.
She pointed out that RCS was preparing a comprehensive program that would see at least 2,400 adult inmates acquire skills in five centers that will soon be put up in different prisons.
“We have had discussions with repeat offenders and the response to why they are back in jail is always that they do had been, for instance, selling drugs again because they had no other choice. By giving them skills, we are preventing such scenarios,” she said.
In the same meeting with the parliamentarians, the Minister of Justice; Johnston Busingye told the MPs that the government is concentrating more on correction than punishment.
“We want someone to be accountable for the bad choices that they have made but also on the other hand, walk out of prison when they are better. We think that correcting is more sustainable that handing down sentences,” he said.