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90% Of Sierra Leone Prisoners Are Youths – Officials Raise Alarm

Some 90 percent of prison inmates nationwide comprises of young people, the head of Sierra Leone’s prisons has disclosed, warning that crime among this category of the population is on the rise and needs attention.

Mr. Sanpha Billo Kamara, Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services, was speaking to journalists on Monday. He stated that as of last week, August 22, there were a total of 4, 445 inmates locked up in about 16
prison facilities across the country.

“This is a clear manifestation that the crime rate is high,” he said and blamed this situation for the overcrowding in prisons and noted that many of the youths involved in crime are of school-going age.

The prison boss also blamed this on failure of parental responsibility.

Mr. Koroma said he made similar observations at a recent forum convened by the Office of National Security to discuss the rise in crime, especially among young people.

Formerly the Sierra Leone Prison Service, the penal system was changed in 2014 by the government to a correctional system, with the aim of transforming inmates, rather than serving as center for punishment.

But observers say the change has brought about no change, if any. Conditions in the Sierra Leone correctional centers have always been an issue of major concern with inmates said to be subjected to deplorable conditions.

Life in the cells is associated with diseases of all sorts. Many former inmates are reported to have died after being freed.

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