Monrovia - Accompanied by both the Inspector General of Police and Director of Liberia Immigration Services (LIS) , Liberia’s Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean Thursday, April, 12, 2018 visited the Monrovia Central Prison to ascertain the condition of the facility and inmates.
Minister Dean then revealed that the high number of pre-trial detainees at the prison facility was worrisome and the situation needs o be addressed
Touring the prison facility for the first time since taking over as Justice minister, Cllr. Dean said although he visited the prison as a private lawyer, his new task makes his visit important.
Briefing the Justice Minister and his entourage upon arrival, the Superintendent of the prison ,Varney Lake said the facility was built for 300 inmates but now has 1,094 inmates.
Out of the total inmates, 375 are held for rape, 258 convicted, 43 foreign nationals and 836 inmates are pre-trial detainees.
Assistant Justice Minister For Corrections, Eddie Trawally said unlike other prison facilities across the country, the Monrovia Central Prison was filled with serious challenges which need urgent attention.
“ No rehabilitation for prisoners, no space, all of our vehicles here are down, medical supplies have all run down,” said Trawally ,who called on government to make the Bureau of Corrections an autonomous agency.
This would limit the bureaucracies experienced in meeting the basic needs of the institution, he said.
He added that the prison does not conform to present day reality because there is no place for rehabilitating inmates as the purpose of putting people in jail who felt short of the law is to have them rehabilitated.
The Assistant Justice Minister emphasized the urgency to construct the Cheesemanburg prison facility in-order to relocate in-mates from the Monrovia Central Prison because the current location is not suitable.
He said the prison facility has been encroached upon with residential quarters which is posing security risk.
Making remarks at the Emmaus Bible Center Mission Liberia Reading Hall located within the prison facility, Justice Minister Dean indicated that prisoners have to be treated with humility.
“These people you see in there are also our citizens and we need to treat them with humility not because they are in prison.” said Cllr. Dean.
He later toured the cells and interviewed some inmates, who pleaded with him for their release.
Troubled by the high number of pre-trial detainees at the MCP, Cllr. Dean said he is looking forward to repealing the laws on how to arrest and who to arrest.
“I hear your various pleas and know your plight, but I cannot do anything right now I am reviewing your cases to act very soon and also looking forward to meeting people in government who will come in to repair some of those damaged infrastructures around here” said Cllr. Dean.
On the issue of rehabilitation, Justice Minister Dean promised to negotiate with the LOIC administration so that some of the in-mates can enroll at that vocational institution, adding, “We can transport you there on a daily basis to learn something while in prison and after class you can return to prison”.