Liberia: Inside Bong Prison Cells, Causes of Two Inmates’ Deaths Remain Unknown
Gbarnga, Bong County – Two inmates were found dead last week in their cells at the Gbarnga Central Prison, prison officials said. Prince Zennah and Stephen Flomo were found unresponsive at Unit 6, prison officials told FrontPageAfrica Tuesday.
The deaths are believed to be unrelated, prison officials said. Zennah, 29, was pronounced dead at 6:17 am on Tuesday, October 20 , while Flomo, 32, was pronounced dead at 1 PM on Friday, October 23.
Flomo had been in prison since February 23, 2015, serving a 40-year sentence for murder.
Zennah, for his part, had just completed his four months detention having been detained for Misapplication of Entrusted Property on restitution by the City Court.
Inmates’ deaths raise concerns
Concerns have been raised as to the causes of the deaths of the two inmates. Aaron Juakollie, Executive Director of the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), wants prison authorities to release the causes of deaths for the two inmates. “We need to do what’s responsible for the deaths of the two inmates. We are calling on the Ministry of Justice through the Bureau of Corrections to inform us about circumstances that led to the deaths of the two inmates.
Following news of the deaths of the two inmates, families of inmates expressed panic over the numbers of deaths, and most of them have said that they can’t reach authorities to learn about the health of their loved ones.
Martha Diggs, whose 39-year-old son is serving a 5-month sentence for Aggravated Assault, said she left frustrated and dehumanized by prison authorities, which would not even take inmates to the hospital. “This is so scaring,” she said.
Strange disease hits Gbarnga Central prison
Strange disease is said to have broken up in the Gbarnga Central Prison which is being attributed to congestion and non-availability of soap for bathing.
The disease appears in the form of spots on the body and develops into sores when scratched. Inmates at the prison who are taken to the hospital and diagnosed are unable to get medication because the prison service is unable to meet the cost of the drugs, prison officials told FrontPage Africa.
These concerns came to light when our reporter went on a familiarization tour of the prison facility to acquaint himself with problems facing inmates at the prison.
Joshua Peabody, spokesperson for the inmates told our reporter one of the causes of the congestion in the cells was high number of persons on remand due to the inefficient investigative procedures of the police.
“The police are quick in arraigning suspects before the court but lack the time and resources to do thorough investigations,” he said.
Peabody said that “the police tend to lose enthusiasms in the case and leave to remand persons to languish in jail”? He appealed to court authorities to assist the police in their investigations when they are remanded.
When contacted, an official of the Gbarnga Central Prison said they were not aware of such skin disease in the prison. On the provision of soap for bathing, he said the Gbarnga Central Prison had a procurement system on that, saying: “I can’t comment on that for now.”