The population of inmates in Sierra Leone is approaching 0.1% of total population and has been steadily increasing over time. Total capacity of the correctional service is less that 30% of current strengths. The situation is aggravated by the a criminal punishment policy which entails severe punishments for criminal acts and limited possibilities of serving the sentence by alternative measures to prison. There are very few if any possibilities to introduce the new measures in a speedy manner and the current service is characterized by sub-standard prison infrastructure, insufficient training of prison and probation staff and inadequate re-socialization instruments.
With the recent passing into law of the Correctional Act and the drawing up of the Correctional Rules in 2014, there is a concerted effort to improve the system of correctional services in compliance with the Act and International human rights instruments.
Ascendant & Company has been assisting the Correctional Service with the upgrading and retooling of its capabilities, in order to prepare for the migration from a prisons service to a correctional service. Participants from the Western Area were training in two separate sessions – one for senior management and directors and the other for management teams in the Western Area. The training sessions took place at the Female Correctional Centre in the Special Courts premises in Freetown. The Director General of Prisons, Bilo Kamara opened the sessions and emphasized the importance of the reforms process and its connection with strategic change in the correctional service. Lead consultant, Olufela Adeyemi, led the sessions on correctional proactive change management, leadership and practice. Human Resources Director, Dennis Harman shared with the participants the new organogram of the correctional service and well as the newly developed job descriptions.
The Western area sessions were follow by training sessions in the Southern region (Bo) and in the Eastern region (Kenema).
Training sessions are scheduled to be followed by pilot appraisal sessions in all regions.
Amongst key discussions during the sessions were possibilities for refurbishment of facilities and an increase in the use of alternatives to incarceration, the increase of correctional officer competencies through training and measures to help inmates overcome their vices through rehabilitation.
The reforms and reviews were made possible through assistance from the DFiD funded Access to Security and Justice Program (ASJP). Officers from other sister organizations like the Sierra Leone Police also shared their experiences with the performance management process in public sector organizations.