Bindura (Nehanda Guardian- New Ziana)-A non-governmental organisation, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) has commended the government and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) for abandoning punitive ways of dealing with inmates and going towards rehabilitating them as prescribed by their vision.
Speaking to New Ziana, George Matende VSO Zimbabwe focal person said even relations between inmates and prison officers across all prisons in the country were pleasing.
“The only problem that is still in the prisons is that of overcrowding and malnutrition but, abuse, no.
“Prison officers and inmates actually now co-exist, we are very happy with that, but we are we are however concerned with lock up times of the inmates,” he said.
Matende said they made the observation recently after visiting prisons with the Zimbabwe Association of Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of Inmates (ZACRO) together with the Zimbabwe Association of Working Organisations with Prisons under the project Kushanda Pamwe/ Working together funded by the European Union.
The project seeks to promote rights of people in contact and in conflict with the legal justice system in Zimbabwe which will contribute to the attainment of rights and provision of social services for vulnerable groups through enhanced transparency, good governance, accountability and inclusive policy making for three years with a funding of one million Euros.
Under the same project VSO which is the grant holder is also capacitating ZACRO and ZAWOP with finances to carry out a study on the impact of inmates lock up times on at least two prisons in each of the six provinces were the project is running.
The project is being implemented in Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands, Mutare, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces.
Pardon Gonorashe ZACRO and ZAWOP Focal person under the Kushanda Pamwe project said the study will focus on maximum, female, juvenile, farm and open prisons.
“The study has been influenced by some behaviors ex inmates are showing after their release from prisons.
“We are seeing that in some instances, inmates are not getting enough time for counseling and capacity/skills building when under incarceration, they are spending much of their time maybe working in the fields.
“We have also seen that at farm prisons inmates can go to pastures alone the whole day and can even meet their girlfriends whilst there and all this has an impact on their rehabilitation since some do not even feel the pain,” he said.
The study will run from November to March 2020.
VSO started working with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service in 2015 promoting human rights and access to health services.
They want to, amongst many other objectives, strengthen the broader HIV and AIDS response, improve access to sexual and reproductive and health services, improve knowledge, livelihood, entrepreneurial and vocational skills in prisons.
Nehanda Guardian- New Ziana