Head of Malawi Prison Service Kennedy Nkhoma has called for an end to imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) as it breeds hard-core criminals.
Speaking at Chichiri Prison during the launch of a Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) voter education and civic education campaign, Nkhoma noted that it is time the prison service graduated into a corrective facility and not a punishment institution.
“It is high time we changed and became a reformative facility. IHL breeds hard-core criminals because, how can someone reform if they are serving IHL? It is high time we moved from the mentality that the prison should be for punishing people. Time has come for us to reform and not to punish,” said Nkhoma to wild applause from over 1 000 prisoners.
The chief commissioner of prisons further appealed to the prisoners to prepare themselves for change as change comes from within.
Nkhoma also challenged government to put the prison to better use, claiming that if utilised, the prison service can feed the entire nation and eradicate hunger.
“We have the manpower and we have shown what we can do with very limited resources. So given the resources, we can feed the whole nation,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the regional commandant for the South Little Mtengano said it is time the prison had its own member of Parliament.
Mtengano claimed the prison is a huge constituency that has no representation in the august House.
“In Parliament, no one talks about prisoners’ problems. I even looked at all the party manifestos and no single party talks about what they will do for the Malawi Prison Service. No party has addressed prisoners’ issues. We need someone to represent us in Parliament, someone who knows our problems and understands what we go through,” he said.
CHREAA executive director Victor Mhango explained that although no political campaign is allowed in prisons, the prisoners are eligible voters, hence the need to ensure that they have access to information that will enable them to fully participate in the elections.