Over 200 prisoners at the National Palace of Correction in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, have described their treatment in prison as “very harsh.” They said this was not in line with the intention of rehabilitation for which the prison facility was built.
The convicts, who did not want their names disclosed for fear of recrimination, told the Liberia News Agency that they are kept behind bars for 18 hours daily with no access to recreation and other facilities, as if they were convicts who may remain in prison for the rest of their lives. According to them, they are let out only in the corridors between cells at the compound, with absolutely no balanced diet and proper ventilation
The prisoners are, meanwhile, appealing to the Rehabilitation Division of the Ministry of Justice to relax the stiff treatment and allow humanitarian and religious groups to visit and assist them. When contacted, the National Palace of Correction Director, Joseph Sumo, confirmed that the prisoners are kept behind bars 18 hours daily.
He blamed this on the jail break about a year ago, adding that precautionary measures were therefore necessary as it is their duty to account for every convict in detention at the compound. Sumo, however, assured that soon the prisoners’ concerns will be addressed with the advice and consent of Ministry of Justice authorities in Monrovia.
He indicated that the prisoners are encouraged daily to exercise patience, noting that “one rotten apple spoils an entire basket.” He further disclosed to LINA that the convicts are currently benefiting from skills training in the areas of soap-making, tie-dyeing, adult literacy and Bible courses. He said training courses in agriculture were suspended about a year ago since the jail break saga.
The National Palace of Correction was built in Zwedru in 1979 to rehabilitate people undergoing long-term imprisonment, and to further empower them through skills training to adequately prepare them to live useful lives upon their release.