Author: Adetula, G A
Date published: March 1, 2010
As specified in the Nigerian criminal law manual, the criminal law forbids the commission or omission of certain acts in order to preserve public order; to protect persons or properties from what is offensive and injurious; to provide sufficient safe guards against corruption or exploitation of others, especially the young, the weak and the inexperienced, in fact, all citizens of the state nation. Any breach of these laws results in penalties such as; fine, imprisonment or even capital punishment (criminal law chapters 3, 11 and 12). The rewards of committing offences includes; incarceration or imprisonment, death and humiliations, to such extent of, deprivation of liberty, social rejection, deprivation of material possession, deprivation of hetero- sexual relationship, deprivation of autonomy and loss of security. These raise an opinion seeking motion to know how it has been with the Nigerian prisons operatives and their derivatives.
The Nigerian prison service is an institution meant to administer penal treatment to adult offenders. Its importance is in the bid to reduce crime in the society. On the basis of imprisonment policy the prison service was established to manage criminals in prison yards. This constitutional function empowers the Nigerian prison operatives to:
- keep convicted offenders (prisoners) for safe custody,
- keep awaiting trial inmates in custody, until law courts ask for their production.
- punish offenders as instructed by the law courts.
- reform the convicted prisoners.
- rehabilitate and to re-integrate prisoners who have completed the sentences in the prison, (extract from prison training manual)
The penal history in the Nigerian judicial and legal system for the deviants within the society has thoroughly been recognized as the right of societies to punish on crime committed. Today nearly the way most societies deal with persons who have committed serious crimes is to confine them to prisons. Some staying there for the rest of their lives while a few may remain on a short time confinement before being executed. This retribution, deterrence, protection to the society and reformation and rehabilitation are the gains or losses, of imprisonment to the society and the citizens. In the light of these there is the need to know the attitudinal impact of incarceration culture or its derivative psychosocial implications on Nigeria.
Current evaluations and assessments of what presently are obtainable within the prisons and their after effects, on the society, indicate a discouraging output in criminal behavior management (Adetula, 2008 a, b). Fasoranti and Fayankinu (2000) showed an increase in female criminality in the area of drug trafficking, assault and theft. Also suggested as paramount for the judicial system is that the system must put in place enhanced strategies for effective sanitization of criminal management operation system for the Nigeria law enforcement agencies including prison. In essence an attempt at increasing the system's facility, viability, vigilance and agility to enforce law and orders judiciously would be welcomed. In turn it would improve on the criminals' code of conduct, reduce societal security sleeplessness and make individuals have confidence in themselves. One of the aggravating prison problems is the question of chronic awaiting trials languishing in the Nigerian prison yards all over the country that has not been answered.
Many questions are of investigative interests involving the dehumanizing role of Incarceration. Zimbardo (1971) study of guards and prisoners behavior proved that in prison,
people quickly absorbed the roles they played through intra/ inter personal relationships. Simulated role of prison behavior of Standford university students showed supportive evidence of the corrupting power of the prison situation. Evidences have been presented before the prison officials, judges, lawyers and committees of US Senate and the House of representative, in real life, that good people are vulnerable to evil forces (Soviet Psychological Society, 1991). In Africa, the experience about penal management behavior shows that from the outset, that bias or injustice has been set- in in managing criminal behavior (KoIo, 2002). He confirmed that, in Nigeria, the police are biased in their dispensation of justice in favor of the rich and the influential. He therefore concluded that, the justice system in Nigeria, particularly at the pretrial stage of the criminal justice process, has failed to live up to its responsibilities. Often the occurrence of the latter injustice would lead to conflict (bad blood) between the offender and the public. The justification in this case lies between those who say the evil resides in the individuals (reform the guards, rehabilitate the prisoners) and those who see evil as inherent dynamics of prison life (KoIo 2002).
Social psychologists believe personality and situational factors could intervene. Zimbardo (1971) experimented with decent, intelligent college men. Half designated to guards, to enforce certain rules. Other half as prisoners locked in cells wearing humiliating outfits. After a day, there was a growing confusion between reality and illusion, between role -playing and selfidentity as Zimbardo (1971, 1972b), declared; "this prison, which we had created, was absorbing us as creatures of its own reality. Although this situation differs from the real life situations, but many cases have been observed where real life situations involve similar role relations. In this paper's opinion, if Africa and every other developing country like Nigeria (which are novel in this kind of knowledge) were to be exhaustively investigated,
similar trends may exist. Yesufu (2002) declared that, ex-convicts lacked deprogramming from the incarceration and regimented lives unlike the case of potential criminals such as the military retirees joining back the social life, whom deprogramming from regulated life was paramount this might be to solve some of these problems. Yesufu, (2002) then suggested that, the government should deprogrammed ex- convicts just as the military prepared an individual for a new responsibility (role) while getting out of service and on entry into free society.
Civil_liberty organization (CLO) researchers demonstrated that the prisoner reformation program of the Nigerian prison services suffers from situational and structural inefficacies. Osaze (1993) highlights on the success of the Nigerian prison system in offender incarceration and incapacitation. In contrast to its failure in the prisoner reformation programme, the immense success of the prison as a means of offender's incapacitation lies in their isolation. Osaze (1993) argued that, the very architecture of the prison, its organizational structure and its processes were to isolate and incapacitate the offender, to render him unable to infringe on the entire supper- structure of the rules, ethic and procedures designed to regulate its acquisition, transfer, use and determination. Thus the prison is characterized by high walls and barbed wires'. There still is a daily dehumanization of prisoner'. 'Prisoner are the hewers of firewood and drawers of water for officers and influential public figures, carriers of human wastes, domestic slaves to highly placed officials and subjected to all sorts of mental tortures'. Thus while the Nigerian prison has been effective in confining and incapacitating interned offenders it has failed in both their reformation and ultimately more fundamental task of stemming crime'. Indeed, the prison has proved to be dysfunctional, for rather than reconciling the offender with the social order and its laws, the prison has been a center for the dissemination and exchange of criminal influences and ideas, and has usually render the prison-processed offender unable to reintegrate into society' (Osaze, 1996). The failure of Nigerian prisons really stem from Nigeria's entire criminal justice system. Indeed, the heavy reliance on the prison services in Nigeria is a desperate effort at responding to call to combat the swelling crime waves sweeping and engulfing Nigeria since early 1970s. The research questions that arise from these are pertinent to exconvicts general acceptance back to the society and how the society considers their existence among the free law abiding people. The negative perception about antisocial behavior of exconvicts which people think were imbibed from the prison culture and perhaps the congestion and inhuman handling of the prisoners that cause them to want to continue behaving so. Could all these be adduced to the salient attitude supportive to recidivism?
A survey was conducted within the population of two states among four selected prison yards sampled inmates and management members. The prison yards were situated at Ekiti and Ondo states in south western part of Nigeria. Federal prison Adoekiti, Olokuta prison Akure, Ondo prison Ondo and Owo Prison Owo were visited to collect data. The population of study was estimated at 2500 male and female comprising of free citizens, prison inmates and some prison workers. Six hundred and eighty participants were selected using stratified sampling technique to choose the sample of study. The six hundred and eighty represented 34% of the population. Of this 360 or 53% were members of the public while 320 or 47% were prisoners. The sampling representation was as follows; four hundred and sixty or 67.7% males and two hundred and twenty or 32.3% females (220). Out of the 320 prisoners, two hundred and seventy (270) or 84.4% were males while fifty (50) or 15.6% were female inmates. The rest three hundred and sixty (360) participants belonged to the free society. This consisted of One hundred and sixty (160) or 23.7% people who had experienced victimization from crime behavior including warders, and two hundred (200) or 27.3% non victims with no experience or contact with victimization. Biodata spread was used in appraising findings because the study dealt with known groups particularly the prison inmates who were serving different terms on stratified sampling techniques. The utilized biodata variables include religion, occupation and marital status. A-twenty-item questionnaire was developed for use in collecting the data it has a reHability of P<. 0.87. The prison officers and inmates were first interviewed by the researcher before administering the questionnaires on them. This was to permit the selection of willing and capable participants Descriptive statistics was utilized for processing the analysis and interpretation of data even though the questionnaire objective in design was to be scored on measures of likert scale format. The questionnaire contained Biodata as dependent variable and the items on impact of imprisonment as the independent variable. The researcher considered the use of descriptive statistics as appropriate and adequate for the study since the result was a generalized interpretation of information presentation.
Findings on Table 1 showing population distribution of participants.
Findings on Table 1 shows population distribution of participants. The gender distribution showed that more men (40% of the sample) were serving jail terms indicating that men are more likely to revisit jails than women as this result has shown that, women constituted (15.6%) of the prisons population.
Table 2 showed on the average that over 40% of the prison inmates were above 30years of age and out of the rest 60%, 42% were less than 20years of age. 62% of inmates were married while 38% were unmarried. On religious affiliation, 87.5% of the inmates were Christians (including those who claimed Christianity in prison) while 12.5% were Muslims. The implication is that Christians were more likely to be convicted for crimes more than Muslims. On Occupational status, those who were classified as salary earners (civil servants) were 12%, the non- salary earners (drivers, tailors, students, farmers etc) were 56% while 32% were jobless before incarceration.
Findings from the twenty items of measure on the impact of imprisonment on the prisoner, victims (those who have suffered criminal attacks) and non-victims (those who have not suffered victimization including prison officials) are presented separately in Tables 3a dd 3b on comparisons of Prisoners versus Other Participants Opinions and All Participants Opinions respectively.
Table 3a shows the comparisons of the perception of prisoners against those of the collective responses of the prison operative, victim and non victim participants on prospects and implications of incarceration. The responses measured the feelings of respondents towards the prison incarceration (on the societal distributive justice) and the values people have towards the national and personal security.
Table 3b shows the perception of prisoners, prison operatives, victims and non victims on prospects and implications of incarceration. The responses are ranked in order of opinion ratings (descending for positive and ascending for negative opinions) of the feelings of respondents towards the prison incarceration (on the societal distributive justice) and the values people have towards the national and personal security. It indicated that with items; 1 to 17 prison culture has very high positive influences on prisoners, victims and publics behavior that serving as tools for curbing criminality while items; 18 to 20 have low but have significant positive deterrence influence on peoples' behavior towards incarceration implications.
The result on Table 3 a showed the following findings from the collation of respondents/ responses. That is, the prisoners perception of the incarceration against those of the rest other respondents. The inquiry that if imprisonment has been able to equip the inmates with necessary skills required for life in the society received a 72% support of the public respondents while only 60.7% of prison inmates thought so. The implication is that definitely prison is preparing inmates for meaningful life after release from prison and that the public should be educated about the skill those inmates released possessed. 62% of the prisoners agreed that life after prison could still be meaningful for exconvicts while 60% of other respondents agreed. According to this view's belief, some prominent citizens of this country who had undergone the same experience inmates were passing through today are living purposeful and qualitative lives now. Prisoners believed that imprisonment have great sober reflections on their behaviors as 78.6% of the inmates and 100% of other respondents agreed that imprisonment makes offenders to acknowledge their wrong doings to others. This means that the deterrence in incarceration is a reducing agent for recidivism. Further effect of incarceration was confirmed by the 60% positive response from the prisoners' in that they tend to acquire more knowledge of committing crimes while in prisons. 60% of other respondents believe that by putting people of different deviant behaviors together in groups particularly, behind bars, cages or cells would give them opportunities to teach each and learn other criminal skills and aptitude or careers which often guide and provoke or lead them into more crimes. 67.9% of the inmates' believe that employing those skills are reinforcing to their sense of alienation and hostilities to the rest of the society while 100% of the rest participants found similar believe true. As signs of love and belonginess, and emotional acceptance and stability of one's kinsman or family, 65.7% of inmates would appreciate it if their family members visit them in the prison yards. It is believed that one of the prisoners' emotional sufferings is the deprivations of their interactions with their family members and friends. It is significant and worthwhile. 80% of other respondents believed that inmates should be visited by their relations in incarceration even if for a short length of time, they argued the visit paid them will be satisfying after seeing them first time after a long period of separation. Sixty one (61%) of the prisoners confirmed that strictness in confinement and punishment in prison could attract anti authority behavior to and from the prisoners. However 50% of all other respondents' believe that the treatment administered or applied in prisons has been found to impact some sense of remorse and seriousness in the prisoners. 61% of the prisoners believe they will develop prison culture, 61% of all respondents also believed this. Despite the imprisonment punishment and correction with the hope of new leave, the prisoners perceived that the public will reject them after imprisonment. 75% of inmates belief that ex- convict only have few chances in their lives after incarceration to reenter and redeem their self images and be incorporated back into the society. 85% of other respondents supported this belief. The prisoners supported monetary expenditure on the prisoners by 70% against 30% also. Incarceration did not suggest dehumanization and insecurity in Nigeria as 69% of the other respondents actually supported this view while 31% of the prisoners believe that the prison system in Nigeria is characteristically promoting dehumanization and insecurity. This finding was not in support of Osaze (1993) view.
Table 3b deals with the general interpretations of the responses of all respondents' perception of prison culture, the prisoners, the operatives, the victims' non-victims of crime and incarceration (see table 3b columns 4). On the benefits of reformation by the released convicts, 61% of other respondents agreed that if exconvicts were given the privilege of reformation, as others in the free society they would be reformed. 39% of the respondents did not believe so. The prisons service has been able to meet the required deterrence goals of incarceration. 47.2% of the respondents did not agree. This view explained that the prison does not necessarily scare any crime- oriented individual (recividivist) , however, 52.8% supported the view that indeed, incarceration has met this goal. The Nigerian prison system would be able to reduce criminal tendencies, if incarceration is not too prolonged. 58% negative reactions were obtained from the respondents against 42% positive response in the belief that the longer the incarceration is the greater the criminal tendency becomes for the individuals. It was confirmed that victims of criminal acts are satisfied when perpetrators of such crime to them are imprisoned. This was because the responses of all participants supported this idea with 69.40% while 15.3% were against it. However in case of serious offences 62.5% of the respondents would be more satisfied when the criminals are deprived of their continuity by death while 37.5% were against. 54.2% confirmed their willingness to accommodate a family member who is released from prison but 43.8% declined. This behavior was witnessed among the south westerners' because of religious affiliations, cultural values and blood relationship belief. 67.9%, of the population accepted that first offenders who had visited prison once will not reoffend again as against 32.1%. 46.4% agreed that the acquisition of new skills by inmates was a crucial factor in keeping offenders busy and 53.6% accepted that the learning of good corrective vocational and attitudinal behavior has been able to reduce the occurrence of offences and crimes. This has confirmed the 67.9% in the earlier opinion response above that, all these measures will help in keeping offenders out of recidivist tendencies after release from the prison sentence. 60% of respondents believed that the pains of the imprisonment hardships will prevent ex- convicts from criminal behavior while 40% said it will not deter criminal tendencies. Money spent on prisoners is not a waste hence would not affect economy negatively; this was all respondents supported with 70% against 30% support for the spending. This means that the public wants an improvement in the prisons management system which includes better reforms with good and healthy living. On a general note, indeed, imprisonment has psychological effect on the prisoners' behavior. 68% against 32% opinion support of all the respondents confirmed this as well as for the prisoners. The employment implications of this for prisoners' after rehabilitation and release is that it helps the employers of works in adding available hands to manpower build up of the society. However 64% by prisoners against 46% of all other respondents in acceptance, people gave less recognition to the utilization of exconvicts for employment. Also the prisoners 46% responses to 54% of all other respondents indicate fewer acceptances of the released prisoners back to the free society. The use of compulsory levies could be imposed on individuals and corporate bodies as a measure of support in catering for and rehabilitating prisoner and prison yards. 50% of the respondents hold and belief in the view that the surplus of the hard earned income of peoples could be spent on rehabilitating the convicts even if they had inflicted various levels of injuries upon the society. This suggests a stitch on time for ex-convicts and corrective measure to safeguard the ex- convicts and the public from the embarrassment of victimization at some other point in time. The deductions from the above are that; the views held by the society including victims, as a whole and by the prison inmates and operatives, have changed due to the imprisonment expectations and prisons experiences. 84. 1% of the respondent was believed to have a hold on this view. These show that both the society and the inmates themselves have hopes in prison system.
The spot assessment of the prisoners' conditions within, the prison environments and oral interview and discussions with prison officials on the situation of things revealed the following; First, the claim that the prison officials have the mandate of keeping offenders and presenting them before the law courts as stipulated by regulations and categorically stated in the warrant from the law courts and this order is still being adhered to. It is pertinent to note that most of the time, no vehicle or money is available to convey awaiting trials to the courts as at when due. Automatically, the trial and judgment is delayed with unending long adjournments all to the expense of the trial inmates and we know a trial delayed is a justice denied. Second, the convicted prisoners are only accepted when the warrant is duly and lawfully signed by a constituted court of law in Nigeria with the signature and names of the judge on the warrant sheet with date. This procedure is still followed rigidly till date. The prisoner would be held in custody and punished according to the instructions given in the warrant sheet until the day of release or pardon or if after he or she might have paid the fine in case the sentence has an option.
Third, the prisoners' minds undergo all manners of reformation training from the prison officers, however from psychologists and welfare unit officials, the prisons conditions itself and from coprisoners attitudes themselves some of these conditions could bring negative or positive impacts. One would not be sure if the prison operatives have tried alternative treatment approaches such as the restorative justice recommendations. Restorative justice concentrates on harm done by crime to its victims. All parties should come out of the process of restorative justice feeling that they have been dealt with fairly.
Fourth, concerning rehabilitation of prisoners' minds and hands, the workshop to learn trades are almost non-existent and where existing no modern equipment and tools, facilities and trainers to carry out the training duty affectively. It is the case of we carried out work with what we had for the prison operatives.
Fifth, reintegration into the society requires much money and logistics, and support from the family, social organization, religious groups so also other secret agents are needed. But the major handicap is money, the vehicle and phone services to be able to do this effectively are not available or grounded.
Sixth, the provision of jobs for Nigerians as prison officers is still an ongoing process since more hands are needed to be on deck. However, delay in promotions, delay in salaries, and poor feedings during prisons operatives' trainings and no course allowances are the general complaints of officers. According to the prison officials, 'these are giving us traumatic experiences when we pay and provide for many of our needs in the training schools'. Undoubtedly, these will do the officers morale no good and the fallout from the situation would be over the inmates they are supposed to treat, secure and service. A kind of transfer aggression would surface, suffice the morale of the prisoners from the implications of, "what I suffer, someone else under me must or will suffer for it". With these how can there be a thorough and proper recruitment, selection and placement of other able and willing officials
Seventh, the food quantity and quality to the inmates is nothing to write about, this is generally an eye sour in nearly every one of the four prisons surveyed.
Eight, the prisoners uniforms are no more available to identify the prisoners from the awaiting inmates. The few ones available are in sheds, tattered and in patches which are not healthy enough to the prisoners day to day living.
Nine, the prison officers who are the custodians of security and sanity are far from reaching the enhancement of the goals of their chosen careers. On welfare ground, they are more favorably treated far and above the prisoners or the awaiting trails only because they are not incarcerated or locked up in the cells. This is not enough the gesture should be extended to the point of entrance to the job VIV-A-VIS the training schools. The living conditions and foods served in the prison training colleges are worse than those obtainable in the yards for inmates. Issued official uniforms from schools such as berets that ought to be green are turning yellow because of longtime usage without new ones to replace them at sight. Wearing of civic shoes has replaced the official boots as foot ware to work, no new supply or money provided for officers to amend old ones or to buy and replace with the expensive ones found in the shops.
Proper and adequate security is due for the Nigerian environment and the Nigerian citizens. There is the urgency for the society and the federal government to overhaul the prison service with positive sweeping reforms that will affect both the state of prisons, prison officers, the convicted prisoners and the speedy trail of those awaiting trails. The whole judicial system including the police, other security agencies and the penal institutions of concern in criminal management and their systems are not left out of these. Not until all these are done the whole judicial system and prison service may collapse. And if it happens, their revival may be difficult and the whole Nigerian societal system will be in for trouble and great danger. There is relative peace now in the society - but imagine all the hardened criminals being unlatched or let out into the free society without proper punishment, reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration - there is room for improvement now in order not to pay a painful price tomorrow. The ongoing terrible experience of the Niger Delta in Nigeria is an example of breeding criminals this is a big problem to Nigeria and Nigerians alive and those yet unborn. Well after this onslaught and if successful where do we keep and manage these trained criminals? The answers remain with the Nigerian governments and the authorities in charge of incarceration and custodians of psychopath and sociopaths. Be it the hospitals and
neuropsychiatrie clinics, the police, the drug addiction centers and abnormal centers, the prison, welfare homes, rehabilitation and reformation centers and psychological resort consultations, clinical, forensic and correctional homes and security centers
Psychologists within and without the prisons should educated the prison officials and the public on the opportunity of according convicts ex- convicts with necessary privileges if not rights, as given to other people in the society even though such individuals are still viewed with convicts and ex- convicts opinions. Largely outright custody without positive measures in prisons would only nurture criminal tendencies and anti authority behavior into inmates when enforced as such, particularly by putting first time criminals with hardened criminals. There is need for prison officials to separate prisoners by classifying them based on age, type of offences and health conditions, to where they would be given proper treatment and rehabilitation process they need. Although a large number of people in the society know that, imprisonment, do not reduce crime inspite of the pains and harsh treatment met to prisoners in incarceration and rejection and rebuff after release jail. One must know that certain percentage of prisoners felt remorse during imprisonment and have tendency to turn a new leaf. It means that the Nigerian prison service has been able to reduce cases of recidivism in prison. The government should be consistent in playing its role with regard to curbing crime by policing; rehabilitating and reforming would be offenders and prisoners after their jail terms. Judges of the judicial system could introduce restorative justice approaches as alternative to punishment. Judges should incorporate this in their admission of evidences from suspects before committing them and even use the same approach at managing judgments in order to see justices as free and fair for all. This as we know is much humanitarian and could contribute to crime reduction and avoidance through increase personal effectiveness of the individual. Therefore the following are the recommendations.
Incarceration does not provide enough deterrence for potential offenders in the society hence there is an urgent need for the government to redefine and improve on the activities of the prison system and effectively employ the teaming population of the young and unemployed employable in the country to give them sense of responsibility away from doing bad as most of the inmates seen in the prison investigated (suggested) were in their early adulthood.
The effectiveness of imprisonment is a function of the participation of both the society and the prisons community as a whole. Inmates' orientation of the society changes with experience undergone right there in the prison, therefore the socialization process cum integration of ex-convicts, which is and a continuation of their reformation must be strictly monitored and upheld. The discharged inmate would come into the society with different orientation and expectation; it is now left for the governments and the members of the public to ensure that they are accepted fully, reoriented and easily initiated back into the societal norms, values and culture. The reformatory procedures of the prisons as stipulated in warrants are acceptable to the members of the society. Government and non-governmental organizations should see to it that the member of the society are fully informed on the activities of the inmates while in prison and the prison system in operation through the mass media or research reports. This would create enough awareness for any intending criminal and by extension every member of the society, in the aspect of the expectation of the prison system and inmates.
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Adetula, G. A., Adetula, A
Deparment of Psychology
Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, Nigeria.
Fatusin, A. F.
Department of Geography and Planning Science
Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, Nigeria.