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Uganda Prisons Adopt Open Policy and Reform

NCJ Number
Crime and Justice International Volume: 15 Issue: 30 & 31 Dated: July/August 1999 Pages: 15-36
W. S. J. Coetzee; W. J. Clack
Date Published
3 pages
Two visits to Uganda during 1998 formed the basis of this analysis of the prisons, prison conditions, and correctional personnel training in the Uganda Prison Service.
Uganda a former British colony, experienced a devastating civil war, and since 1987 has been undergoing reconstruction using funds from donors. The main purpose of the Uganda Prison Service (an agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) is the management of offenders at various security levels. It currently has 13,000 inmates and about 4,000 staff. The service is managed in military style. Overcrowding is a problem in al the prisons visited; these institutions hold both convicted and remand prisoners. Transportation to court is by bus or by foot. The main food in all prisons is maize meal and beans; vegetables are added when available. Some prisons serve one meal per day; others serve three meals per day. Babies share food with their mothers. Most prisons have pit latrines available only in daytime. Approximately 10 percent of inmates die in custody. The supply of blankets and clothing is limited; prisoners are mainly dependent on their families for these items. The prisons visited are all understaffed. Staff training is mainly restricted to military procedure. No functional training has been provided by the prison service during the past 4 years. No specific courses focus on management. Most correctional officers have completed the equivalent of South Africa's grade 10. Staff are grossly underpaid. A consequence of the civil war is the loss of an entire generation of staff; within the next 4 years the prison service will have an untrained or poorly trained staff. The Commissioner of Prisons has established a totally open policy on prisons; representatives of the Foundation of Human Rights Initiative, Uganda, often visit the prisons, and a quarterly newsletter focuses on prison conditions in Uganda. Photograph