SIERRA LEONE: Don Bosco Fambul Starts New Project for Poor Inmates in Pademba Road Prison
(MissionNewswire) Prison life in Sierra Leone offers very little hope for rehabilitation or reintegration back into society once a prison term has ended. According to humanitarian watch groups, prisons in Sierra Leone face overcrowding and inadequate food as well as lack vital sanitation and health care. Inmates die from overcrowding, illness and violence.
All too often, minors are detained for petty crimes and end up falling prey to prison violence, giving them little hope for the future upon their release. The population of the country’s largest detention facility, Pademba Road Prison in Freetown, was designed for 324 detainees but had over 1,300 inmates at the time of the report with the number continuing to grow.
According to UNICEF, almost two thirds of the population of Sierra Leone lives below the poverty line, and although recent violence has ended, the country is still recovering from a brutal 10-year civil war. More than 500,000 people were displaced during the conflict and more than 60,000 children were orphaned and are homeless.
Salesians in Sierra Leone are giving new hope to young prisoners of Pademba Prison. Recently, Don Bosco Fambul, a leading educational and vocational organization that serves disadvantaged youth in Freetown, in collaboration with Catholic Caritas and Sierra Leone Prisons Service, launched the Legal Support Project with the intention of helping the most disadvantaged inmates in Pademba Prison. The project will provide legal representation for poor inmates who would otherwise be unable to access legal services to ensure their rights are upheld.
Many of the prisoners who will be assisted through the project do not have family outside the prison to ensure that the court and prison system acts in a fair and balanced way. Don Bosco Fambul hopes the project will free up to 100 inmates who they believe no longer belong in the prison system.
Freeing inmates at Pademba Road prison is no small undertaking. According to a recent Sierra Leone Awareness Times article about the new project, Brother Lother Wagner, director of Don Bosco Fambul, noted that based on current information from the prison, some inmate files and documents are missing, and can no longer be accessed by the courts to ensure justice. Lawyers and paralegals, provided by Catholic Caritas, will be working on the project to assist these prisoners and others.
In addition to providing legal support, Don Bosco Fambul is expanding its education and counseling services to reach youth inside the prison. A new long-term partnership between the prison and Don Bosco Fambul was established to allow the opening of a new youth counseling center for the prisoners that will be staffed four hours each day with two social workers and three assistants. The goal of the center is to give youth and their families the necessary tools for rehabilitation and reintegration upon release.
Don Bosco Fambul is also providing food and water to more than 70 inmates of Pademba Road Prison each day while offering counseling services, medical assistance and stress therapy to ensure inmates are mentally fit when their prison terms have ended.
“Youth incarcerated in Sierra Leone must see hope for the future if we expect to deter them from crime and other dangerous behavior,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our goal is for youth to use their time in prison constructively and through counseling, begin to address what brought them to the prison in order to prevent their return.”
Sierra Leone Awareness Times – Don Bosco & Caritas to Free 100 Inmates from Prisons
UNICEF – Sierra Leone