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Call to make Bureau of Corrections autonomous

Assistant Justice Minister for Rehabilitation Mr. Eddie Tarawali has called on government to make the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) autonomous to curtail the bureaucracy it has to go through to address issues affecting inmates, mainly health matters.

“We want to propose to your office that under these circumstances of financial constraints, medical issues and difficulties that [are] confronting the Bureau of Corrections … that the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation must be … autonomous so as to take their own administrative control,” Mr. Tarawali said recently during a tour at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP).

He reminded his boss Justice Minister Musa Dean that the Police, the Court and the Corrections are three major components of Liberia’s criminal justice system, adding that these institutions need to be dignified under Minister Dean’s administration.

He observes that the police are autonomous, but they are under security scrutiny and administrative guidance, thus seeking autonomy for the BCR as well.

He says difficulties are confronting the BCR in terms of central administration processing through the normal bureaucracy when Corrections has to take inmates to hospital.

Mr. Tarawali says one of the paramount issues facing prisons in Liberia is the medical service, reporting that buses are down and ambulances are not in use, while complaining that inmates’ feeding is also a challenge.

According to the Officer – in – Charge at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP) Clinic Madam Victoria Massah, the clinic sometimes records 75 to 80 cases weekly.

But during a tour at the MCP last week, the Physician Assistant and Office – in – Charge Madam Massah said she received her last quarterly supply from the Ministry of Health (MoH) from September to December 2017 and did not get further supply since that time up to 30 March this year.

As a result, she says the prison clinic has been referring minor cases to the John F. Kennedy referral hospital due to the lack of paracetamol and car for emergency.

She calls on Justice Minister Musa Dean to tell the people that are supplying the Prison Clinic to back up the MoH and be on time in giving supply when she makes her request.

By Winston W. Parley

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