Gbarnga, Bong County – The Gbarnga Central Prison, housing some of Bong County’s notorious criminals, is using buckets to cope with leaky roofs. A tour of the prison facility by our reporter, who was denied from taking photos, established that prisoners are sleeping in on wet floors as the result of leaky roofs.
The prison superintendent, Richard Z. Mulbah told FrontPageAfrica that since the destruction of the prison roof, inmates occupying the damaged facility are currently sleeping in the rainwater, leaving many of the prisoners to suffer from pneumonia, malaria and other illnesses. “The renovation of the prison has not been possible due to lack of funds. The roof is leaking and we have sent appeals out but have been told that the government was doing everything to renovate the building, and hence it has become very difficult for prisoners,” Mulbah.
“The huge number of prisoners is also creating a problem of drinking water and sanitation. There is a situation for the prisoners to take turns and go to the restroom,” he added.
“The rain can really pour on the prisoners. It is very sad to operate a facility in such a condition,” Mulbah said. “The prison compound is challenged. The storm de-roofed a major portion of the building, about five bundles of zinc needed to renovate. This is very bad to see rain pouring on the inmates during the rainy season,” Mulbah said.
Mulbah admitted that portion of the damaged prison facility contains a little over 50 inmates, stressing that the need to renovate the prison can’t be over emphasized. Mulbah said the condition of the prison compound has been communicated in their regular weekly county security meeting, but nothing is being done to savage the problem. “All the leaders including representatives and senators of our county have been informed but nothing is being done to address to address the situation of the prison facility,” he said.
Mulbah also called on the public and the government of Liberia to provide them with building materials to have the damaged building reconditioned. He named bundles of zinc, nails, planks among others as materials needed to recondition the facility for the inmates.
The Gbarnga Central prison overcrowding hit 50 per cent as the prison population currently is 350 instead of 75 standard capacity of the prison, according to Mulbah. He expressed worry about the situation stating that it has promoted infections, spread of communicable disease, contamination and poor sanitation, among others.
Mulbah noted though the service over the years had strived to ensure that the rights of prisoners, including pre-trial detainees are observed, it had been hindered by factors such as overcrowding, budgetary and logistical constraints ad well as the slow pace of investigation and prosecution leading to prolonged stay in pre-trail detention.
He noted however that relevant stakeholders within the criminal justice system have initiated interventions to mitigate the challenges affecting the rights of pre-trial detainees. He identified some of the interventions as ‘Justice for All”, which has drastically reduced the pre-trail (remand) population from 30 percent at its inception in 2007 to 13 percent in 2018, thereby ensuring the expeditious disposal of prolonged pre-trial cases.