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Sierra Leone Corrections Service - Powering Performance Management and Innovation


 

Top management staff of the Sierra Leone Corrections Service (Formerly known as the Sierra Leone Prison Service) began a series of workshops in September geared towards repositioning and reforming the institution for proactive service delivery and the delivery of a brand new offender management charter.

The workshops were led by Corrections consultant Olufela Adeyemi and funded by DFID’s Access to Security and Justice Program (ASJP).  In opening the workshop, Corrections Director General Bilo Kamara acknowledged the depth of prior research and restructuring work already done and expressed optimism that the Corrections Service was entering into a time of intense change and reform designed to deliver on its core objectives and re-invent itself.

ASJP deputy team leader, Amie Kandeh gave a brief background to the project, noting that the purpose of the assignment was to implement a performance management system within the Sierra Leone Corrections Service to enable it transform itself into a Corrections Service and assume a more assertive role within the criminal justice system.

Ascendant consulting lead, Olufela Adeyemi disclosed that the sessions would discuss indepth the modalities for implanting proactive corrections management, leadership skills and corrections psychology.  Other aspects covered during the workshop were Monitoring and coaching, performance appraisals and forward thinking leadership.

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Why should the prisons be called correctional facilities?  Many argue that prisoners never come out better than they went in.  Parliamentarian Foday Rado Yokie opined that majority of inmates who had served terms behind bars do more harm than previously upon being released, and called on prison officers to supervise and monitor inmates with a view to rehabilitating them.  Skeptics say its all about public relations.  It’s the same reason why solitary confinement is now called administrative segregation.  It makes a better sound in public.  Is that really the reason?

Ajibola Manley Spain, Sierra Leone parliamentarian and chair of the pre-legislative committee said the bill Corrections Act will repeal the 1960 Act governing prisons in Sierra Leone.  The new bill would support the classification of prisoners as well as provide prisoners with minimal support while in detention.

The current prisons system is greatly challenged by the lack of an appropriate prisons system, unclear rules, delays of court processes, and poor records management.

The Corrections Acts should impact positively on overcrowding in prisons in Sierra Leone.  Contrary to popular opinion, however, prisons can actually rehabilitate inmates. Rehabilitation has a lot to do with the inmates attitude, much more than the systems in place for such transformation.  Inmates can choose to be corrected and choose the correct path if they indeed want to. If an inmate lays low and joins a relevant program and changes his/her mindset, that he cannot set foot on the right path. In rare situations, trouble still follows, but this should be rare. Most inmates who do not come out reformed, would have chosen not to be reformed. They would have chosen the wrong path, therefore, the prisons will qualify to be a centre for corrections.