September 28, 2022

A few months ago, residents of Freetown experienced their own attempt of what the authorities describe as a “prison break.” In the early hours of 29th April 2020, two days after Sierra Leone’s 59th Independence Anniversary, the capital went into panic after rapid gunfire and news of a jail break circulated all over social media forums.

It was a serious effort that led to the deaths of inmates and prison guards. Since that unfortunate day, there have been many suggestions of what really transpired, but the truth or a conclusive explanation is yet to be determined.

The Pademba Road Prisons was founded by the colonial authorities in 1914. It was intended to house 220 prisoners. As it is, it currently has more than 2000 inmates. There is no disputing the fact that the Prison should be shut down and a new prison constructed. Relocating Pademba Road Prisons is must and must be done now!

A while ago, a former minister in Dr. President Kabbah’s Government suggested relocating the Pademba Road Prisons on one of Sierra Leone’s islands. While this may have been a bit extreme, yet there was logic in the idea of relocation. There is ample space in the western rural or Port Loko District that can accommodate the prisons.

In addition, a special criminal court to handle such cases could also be constructed close to a new identified site as could a police station. This would answer skeptics who fear cost and challenges of movements of prisoners.

This could all happen far away from the central of any city and save citizens from the fear of another jail break or tension whenever certain matters appear before the courts.

Such an action or decision will be a very popular pro-active step in the right direction, and the new prisons could be properly designed to accommodate up to 5000 inmates, and also provide recreational and educational facilities, as prison is not supposed to be a form of retribution, incapacitation and deterrence, but also a way of providing opportunities for criminals to be reformed and rehabilitated before returning back to their communities.

Freetown should no longer be the host of the Prisons – Pademba Road Prisons must go now!