Monrovia – Lack of rooms to hold incoming inmates at the Monrovia Central Prison is now giving absolute freedom to suspected criminals and offenders of the law to gallivant in communities despite the security threats they may pose to citizens.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that the Monrovia Central Prison has begun rejecting suspects committed by the court to the prison center on ground that only suspects of certain crimes (crimes considered grave) would be accepted and committed to the prison.
On Monday, at least three defendants were denied by the Superintendent of the Central Prison –something which the court has described as undermining the justice system.
Speaking to FPA, stipendiary magistrate of the Monrovia City Court Judge Kennedy Peabody disclosed that the decision of the prison superintendent to refuse incoming inmates was portraying the court as a toothless bull dog.
He averred that the Court was meant to hear and adjudicate cases and also to imprison breakers of the law.
“The Prison Superintendent said that this is not one of the crimes to commit the defendant. This is ridiculous because there are several aggravated assault cases that need to addressed,” Magistrate Peabody asserted.
Judge Peabody said the County Attorney on several occasions has intervened in making sure that defendants are incarcerated.
“I told my officers that whenever they take a defendant to the prison and the prison superintendent refuses to accept the defendant, that defendant should be left alone,” magistrate Peabody said.
The magistrate of the Monrovia City Court lamented that if the situation is not averted, any criminal could walk away anytime.
“It would also create problem in the communities."
"There are two sides to a coin, there are complaints of prison over crowdedness, but for the community, if someone commits aggravated assault and you allow them to go, they will take the law in their own hands because they know they will not be imprisoned,” he added.
According to magistrate Peabody, he has committed about 15 to 25 inmates to the central prison but they were denied entry.
“The Chief Justice is aware and he has promised to work on it. It happens here every day. My function is if a defendant appears before me and I acquaint him/her with his/her Miranda right and they don’t have bond to file, I fix their commitment, if the prison refuses them, I’m done with that,” he added.
Magistrate Peabody recommended the construction of a new prison compound taking into consideration the increasing population in Monrovia.
According to him, if the prison compound refuses suspects, one will think that the judges are being bribed.
Meanwhile, the Solicitor General clarified to FrontPage Africa that her offices at no time instructed the Superintendent of the Monrovia Central Prison to reject anyone committed to the prison by the courts.
According to Cllr. Betty M. Lamin-Blamo, there was a memorandum of understanding in June 2016 that sought to control how Writ of arrest was issued. This, according to her, was intended to address the over crowdedness of prisons.
“All county attorneys, prosecutors, district attorneys and city solicitors were directed to pray for a Writ of Arrest only in cases of capital offenses including but not limited to murder, rape, armed robbery; capital offense against internal security; capital offense of economic sabotage, human trafficking, arson and offenses involving danger to the person.
Amnesty International – an international human rights watchdog – has continuously lamented the appalling condition of the Monrovia Central Prison.
Amnesty International reported that the Monrovia Central Prison – the second biggest prison in the country is currently holding more than twice its capacity.
The situation, according to Amnesty International, is forcing inmates to sleep in shifts because there is not enough room to lie down.
Adequate supply of food, water and health care has been a major challenge for the prison.