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PRAWA canvasses special fund for non-custodial sentences

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Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has declared that the activation of the non-custodial Special Fund would help to promote and sustain the implementation of non-custodial measures in Nigeria.

This, the group said is critical considering the fact that before now, budgetary constraint has been a major challenge to the implementation of non-custodial measures in the country.

“In seeking solution to this major challenge therefore, focus should be, firstly, on the utilization by Nigerian Correctional Service of existing facilities and funds where possible for the implementation of non-custodial measures.

“Secondly, on proper funding of the non-custodial service from budgetary allocations to ensure that there are adequate operational vehicles for the non-custodial officers and for security, communication and other logistics for the service. There should equally be proper assignment of costs towards the rehabilitation of offenders serving non-custodial sentences.

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“Thirdly and most interestingly on the application of the innovations brought by Section 44 of the NCSA (2019). This section provides that, there shall be the special non-custodial fund to be administered by the National Committee on Non-custodial Measures,” PRAWA’s deputy director, Mrs. Ogechi Ogu said in a statement at the weekend.

She explained that the involvement of state governments in the management of corrections would help reduce the burden of management of corrections on the Federal Government especially given the fact that most offenders found in Correctional Centres are indigenes of the states where such centres are located.

Her wrods: “We therefore recommend that immediate action be taken by the federal and state governments to make the necessary payments into the Special Non-custodial Fund. Federal/ State Ministries, Departments and Agencies and in fact all stakeholders should key into the process of raising the necessary funds and taking immediate steps to ensure the payment into the Special Non-custodial Fund as provided in Section 44(b).

“The identification and application of the fund and the day-to day utilization of the fund need to be guided by the Nigerian Correctional Service under the leadership of the Controller General. In conclusion, while the Special Non-custodial Fund is important for the sustainability of the implementation of Non-custodial measures in Nigeria and the NCSA (2019) generally, there are also other strategies that will help enhance this process.

“These include; partnership and support of the judiciary; partnership and support of relevant State and Local Government level institutions; partnership and support of Civil Society Organizations, Faith-based Organisations, Non Governmental Organisations, the media etc. and the activation of the mechanisms provided in the NCSA (2019), including the National Non-custodial Committee, State Non-custodial Committees, State Mental Health Review Board and Custodial Inspection and Visiting Committees.”
Ogu insisted that all those strategies should be addressed to achieve result.

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