This week, inmates at Ruhengeri Central Prison petitioned the government to consider allowing the youth - who constitute the majority of the prisoners – to carry out community work instead of being confined to prisons.
Ruhengeri prison has over 2,300 inmates.
Prisoners who confessed to their role in the 1994 Genocide, have taken part in community labour, through the TIG programme. To some extent, their work has contributed to the country’s reconciliation efforts.
Maintaining prisoners can be costly and while, in some cases, servicing sentences is an inevitable form of punishment, there are situations where inmates can carry out community labour as part of the penalty.
This will not only offset some of the costs of maintaining them, but will also contribute towards their rehabilitation process.
There are a number of initiatives, including the construction of classrooms for the 12 Year Basic Education and building of terraces that, once completed, will contribute to the development of the country.
By taking part in these activities, the inmates will, on one hand, contribute to the betterment of the society, and on the other, serve form of punishment.
Important to note is that community labour should be carried out in a way that it is a penalty and not a form of a lesser punishment.
Periodic evaluations should be carried out to ascertain if community work carried out by the inmates reprimands as well as helps rehabilitate them and is at the same time of public good.