Rwanda’s penitentiary system is still trying to recover after coming under extreme pressure in the last two decades and a half.
Most of the prison infrastructure dates back to colonial days and previous administrations did little to improve them. The sole purpose of incarcerating people in sordid conditions was more to punish them as opposed to rehabilitating them.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi also made things worse as prisons were full to the brim with Genocide suspects and convicts.
The first decongestion strategy was highly successful when certain categories of Genocide convicts served part of their sentences outside prison walls performing community works. That was one of the highlights of Gacaca; it was more of restorative justice than repression.
So, the sooner Genocide suspects understood the concept, the easier it was for them to step forward and own up with the prospects of getting lighter sentences.
Releasing prisoners on early on parole is also on the books for good behaviour and it seems to be working.
But now, perhaps one of the most revolutionary move by the judiciary to ease pressure on the penitentiary system is the introduction of electronic ankle monitors for minor crimes which account to the majority of cases.
Prisoners could be confined to their homes or other geographical areas and monitored and any attempt to tinker with the monitors or break the conditions set will set off an alarm to alert law enforcement.
It will mark yet another milestone in modern prison management prison, which, as we mentioned earlier, is aimed at rehabilitation and not necessarily locking people away yet they could be more productive while serving their sentences.