Connemara pleads for prisoners

OFFICIALS at Connemara Open Prison in the Midlands province, said they had been rendered redundant after all 65 inmates at the institution were recently released under the Presidential Amnesty.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) spokesperson, Elizabeth Karinda-Banda, confirmed the development yesterday, saying the situation had seen prison officers carrying out duties like tending to cattle and prison fields, which were normally assigned to inmates.

She, however, said it was a temporary arrangement for prison officials to attend to such jobs since it takes careful selection for prisoners to qualify to be admitted at the open prison.

“The open prison selection board is in the process of sitting to select prisoners who meet the required criteria,” Banda said.

“To date, the board has sat and 14 inmates were selected from WhaWha Prison and there are now at Connemara. The process is continuing and more suitable inmates will be recruited from all the country’s prisons.”

Banda said by its nature, the open prison system could not accommodate inmates convicted with certain crimes, hence, the delay in the recruitment process.

“But basically, we are saying, as ZPCS, that our projects at Connemara cannot stall because inmates were released through amnesty,” she said.

“It is a temporary setback, which we are addressing and very soon everything will be normal.”

Last year, there were calls by the government to decentralise open prisons to all provinces, as a way of re-integrating offenders back into society.

Connemara caters for men and there have been calls to have an open prison for women, with preliminary plans put in place a few years back to have it [female open prison] established in Marondera.


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