Prison Education in Nigeria

Prison Education in Nigeria

Gbolagade Adekanmbi (Independent Researcher, Botswana) and Ukoha Ezikpe (Federal Prisons, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3432-8.ch087
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This chapter explores prison education in Nigeria and examines its history, programs, methods, and challenges. It makes the point that prison services and education are not alien to the Nigerian and African settings. However, whereas traditional African prison education emphasizes restorative justice and learning, modern prison services tend to amplify punishment. While rehabilitation is one goal of incarceration, an all-inclusive prison education in Nigeria is still at a nascent stage. The chapter suggests ways of improving current practices and consolidating gains through specific interventions and researches.
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The background information discusses the state of prisons in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Nigeria.

A prison is a place where offenders are kept for the purpose of restraining their freedom in compliance with correctional law or until satisfactory rehabilitation has been achieved. Ayinde and Opeyemi (2011 p.9) indicate that it is as ‘an institution which has been set aside by law for safe custody of people legally confined for anti-social behavior’. They further note that the ultimate goal is to train prisoners to become useful to the society, following incarceration, and to prevent a relapse into further crimes. This is the expectation of various human rights organizations and related bodies interested in the welfare of prisoners. Thus, most prison rehabilitation programs aim to prevent recidivism.

In its report on Global Trends in Prison, Penal Reform International (2015), citing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Jacobson, Heard and Fair (2017:10), has reported that while prison population rates worldwide have remained fairly stable in the last ten years, there has been a decline in all the sub-regions of Africa. Sarkin (2008) has noted that prisons in Africa do not generally meet minimum human rights expectations and that a reform of the prison system in Africa is needed. Among challenges listed by him are those related to lack of resources, inadequate prison governance, overcrowding, poor conditions, and the ‘unfulfilled mandate of rehabilitation’ (p.23). Perhaps the main challenge, historically understood is that Africa’s prison system is ‘a European import designed to isolate and punish potential opponents, exercise racial superiority and administer capital and corporate punishment’ (p.24). He further notes that ‘Africa’s earliest experience with formal prisons was not with an eye toward the rehabilitation or re-integration of criminals’ (p.24). Thus, in his view, prisons in Africa are for this reason unable to ‘pursue rehabilitation’ dreams. Digging further into prison practices, he notes that the average number of prisoners who are awaiting trial in Africa is put at 45 to every 100,000 against a global rate of 44 to 100,000. This waiting period is somehow high in West Africa and also Central Africa. Overcrowding is particularly common in such countries as Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Cameroun and Burundi (Sarkin, 2008). This problem is also found in Nigeria where the ‘awaiting trial’ category of prisoners is competing with actual convicts, making rehabilitation something of a nightmare.

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