The Poverty of Imprisonment as a Correctional Measure in Nigeria

Jacob Iorhen Yecho


The Prison system in Nigeria as elsewhere is supposed to be a correctional institution.  It is intended to mould the life of those involved in criminal activities into non-criminal ventures.  However, the handling of prisoners in various prisons across the nation has called to question the philosophy upon which the institution is established. This paper makes a modest attempt in assessing the philosophical assumptions underlying the establishment of the prison institution as an effective tool of offender correction in Nigeria against the background of actual handling of convicts in various prisons across the nation. To achieve this, the paper relies on the analysis of secondary data obtained from the works of various scholars on the subject matter across the country, with a view to juxtaposing and cross validating the philosophy with the practice.  From the analysis, it is evident that the prison has failed to realize the objectives for which it was founded.  This apparent failure is traceable to the: inconsistent policies of the criminal justice system; the absence of therapeutic and reformation techniques; mishandling/dehumanization of inmates; and the various forms of deprivations that the inmates are subjected to.  We are of the opinion that it is not possible, simultaneously, to ‘punish’ an offender through deprivations and inhuman conditions in prison and ‘reform’ through therapy and vocational/educational training.  The paper therefore considers other alternatives to imprisonment which include: community based programmes; employment of semi-skilled and skilled convicts in formal organizations and deduction of their emoluments to carter for victims of crimes; and the hospitalization of the mentally deranged in mental hospitals with adequate therapeutic treatment.

Keywords: Prison system, imprisonment, correctional measure, reformation, deterrence.


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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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