Stakeholders advocate non-custodial sentencing
Stakeholders in the justice system have advocated the implementation of non-custodial sentencing to decongest prisons and to give the right punishment to offenders.
Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) and Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, (CDHR) said the recently enacted Nigerian Correctional Services Act 2019 allows for non custodial measures and as such should be implemented.
Speaking, Senior Legal Officer, HURILAWS, Collins Okeke, said a report released in 2017 by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics indicated that Lagos state has the largest concentration of persons in prisons in Nigeria. Anecdotal evidence, he said, suggests this may be as a result of a weak non-custodial legal framework
“We have discovered that a major way to decongest prisons is for the state to adopt more custodial sentencing, meaning sentences that don’t involve taking people to prison. These things exist in the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL). If they are implemented often, we are certain there would be impacts on the conditions of prison in Lagos state,” he said.He admitted however that there has been an effort by the previous chief judge in issuing sentencing guidelines but noted the need for the guidelines to get to policy level.
Immediate past National President, CDHR, Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu, said Non-Custodial sentence, sometimes referred to as alternative sentencing or community sentence, could include fines, canning, forfeiture, parole, community service, probation, deportation, house arrest, curfew, mandatory treatment, binding over or rehab programmes, apology to victim, restrictive order, regular reporting among others.