Zambian correctional facilities in over 150 percent overcrowding


AS of yesterday, correctional facilities in Zambia had more than 25,000 inmates against a 10,650 holding capacity and this high congestion has been attributed to pending judgements and increased remandees.

Zambia Correctional Service(ZCS) commissioner general Fredrick Chilukutu said correctional facility population standards at 25,372, representing 150 percent congestion rate considering that the seating capacity is 10,650.

To address congestion, Mr Chilukutu has urged the Judiciary to address cases of pending judgements and remandees with bailable offenses who are around 1,500.
Mr Chilukutu said this yesterday during the ceremonial opening of the Criminal High Court Sessions in Lusaka.

He said of the total population, 5,101 are remandeess, among them pending judgements by the courts of law, those with bailable offences, prohibited immigrants and those on continued trial and criminal investigations by arresting agencies.
“This category translates to 20 percent of the total prison population which is critically contributing to overcrowding,” Mr Chilukutu said.

He also called on adjudicators to consider alternative punishments for some wrongdoers rather handing everyone custodial sentences.

Mr Chilukutu further urged the judiciary to make concerted efforts with the Correctional Service to ease overcrowding in prisons and correctional centres by prioritising the imposition of non-custodial sentences for appropriate offences.

He said juries should give reasonable bail conditions to accused persons facing bailable offences.

Mr Chilukutu said ZCS has since embarked on expansion of Open-Air Correctional centers and strengthening collaboration with other players in the criminal justice system for speedy disposal of court cases and enhancing information sharing.

The Service Chief said that, “the Service has prioritized the decongestion Presidential policy statement to decongest the center through implementation of the transfer of convicted persons Act of 1998 through bilateral agreements with various countries in the exchange of convicted foreign nationals.”

And session judge Charles Kafunda noted that the attainment of improved coordination between the Judiciary and Correctional Service will provide effective communication.

The Judge said this will ultimately ensure that punishments meted out by the courts of law are correctly implemented by the Correctional Services.

And Judge in Charge of the Lusaka High Court Justice Charles Zulu emphasized the need for collaboration in the dispensation of Justice in line with the session theme, “Better delivery of justice through improved coordination of Correctional and Judicial Systems.”

The Zambia Correctional Service and the Judiciary agreed to collaborate in order to address congestion in Prisons and Correctional centers.

(Mwebantu, Tuesday, 9th January, 2024)

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