THE TRANSFORMATIONAL TREND OF THE SIERRA LEONE CORRECTIONAL SERVICE CONTINUES*
*By: Sheku Putka Kamara*
It is an expression of the obvious that the Sierra Leone Correctional Service under the astute and able leadership of its current Director General, Mr. Sanpha Bilo Kamara has
been putting tremendous efforts in ensuring that the Service matches twenty first century Correctional trends. The validity of the said assertion is inherent more so when one
thinks about the tangible realities that this DG has brought into Sierra Leone's Correctional Service.
Just recently i.e. July 12th and July 13th 2017 respectively, Mr. Sanpha Bilo Kamara and the no nonsense Minister of Internal Affairs, Retired Major Paulo Conteh commissioned
two pivotal buildings that have added value to the Sierra Leone Correctional Service. The showroom at Pike Street in Freetown which among other things is to display the
works in inmates and the new billet for trainees of the Correctional Service are enviable steps that have been taken in ensuring that the transformation from prisons to
corrections takes significant effect.
On the commissioning of the new showroom of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, the Minister of Internal Affairs Honorable Paulo Conteh joined the Sierra Leone
Correctional Service in commissioning a building that will be used as a show room for inmates’ craftsmanship. Delivering the keynote address at the event which was organized
on Wednesday July 12th 2017, Mr. Conteh said that since the then Prisons was transformed into a Correctional Service by an Act of parliament of 2014, the administration
thought it would be wise to put up a building in which inmates’ hand works will be displayed for public view and for sale.
"Before now, the only way to display inmates' products was through trade fares done at the Siaka Stevens National Stadium; this rendered the public less knowledge about
inmates' rehabilitation. So the perception about Correctional Centre, was in no doubt a very poor one," Paulo said.
He assured the Correctional Service of Government’s continued support to the institution, "as long as they continue to work towards the values and aims of His Excellency the
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, and with our Government's passion for infrastructural development and the transformation of inmates to be useful members of our society,
we will always continue to provide funds to enable the will of the Government to be fulfilled.
The Minister praised the efforts of the current administration of the Correctional Service for revitalising inmates' craftsmanship.
Addressing the gathering, Director General of the Correctional Service, Sanpha Bilo Kamara explained that his administration considered the idea of enlivening inmates’
rehabilitation programs by way of empowering inmates with requisite societal technical skills.
"Emphasis was put on the training of inmates for them to acquire skills when they are in incaceration, and we went further to work in close concert with the Non-
Governmental Organisations and to request from donor agencies to assist in this direction."
On their discharge, after serving their terms of sentence, they will be useful to society, according to the Director General. Mr. Kamara added that one way of enabling free
inmates to properly explore their craftsmanship is to put up a display centre for them where their works can be displayed and sold to interested persons.
"We also intend to strengthen the earning scheme of inmates after they would have been discharged. This will give an opportunity to individual, government institutions,
organisations that require skilled labour to make use of these young men and women coming out of our correctional centres, after serving their terms of incaceration."
In another laudable development on Thursday July 13th 2017 at the Correctional Service training school in Waterloo, a new billet for trainees was commissioned by the
Services' DG and the Internal Affairs Minster.
Speaking at the event, the Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, Mr. Sanpha Bilo Kamara pointed out the significance of the structure, noting that it is a
building that would add up to the structural value of the service. He said that his administration is aimed at ensuring that standards are upheld and improved in the Sierra
Leone Correctional Service.
Mr. Kamara said that the Service is however constrained on the area of handling land encroachments at the Services' training school, but stressed that such building projects
among other things were aimed at ameliorating those anomalies.
Delivering the key note address, the Internal Affairs Minister Retired Major Paulo Conteh emphasised the relevance of the building, adding that it was something that his
ministry and the Government of Sierra Leone receive in a welcoming manner. He said that he was aware about the problems of land encroachments at the Correctional Service
training school, but noted that these were acts perpetrated by community people. He however said that it was not totally ideal to cry down the community people, stressing
that they form a significant part of the Services' development agents.
The Interal Affairs Minister called on the administration of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service to continue to be more robust in uplifting the standards of the Service into a
grade A status, adding that it is something that would be in line with twenty first century Correctional trends.
The commissioning of the new billet attracted several dignitaries and representatives from the Sierra Leone Police, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, the National Fire
Force, Civil Society Organizations, the media and hundreds of community people.
The new building has been named the Sanpha Bilo Kamara house in what has been described as a valuable recognition of the immense contributions of the current Director
General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, in ensuring that the Service matches acceptable and adorable standards in society and the globe at large.
It is at this point that it is worth noting that these developmental activities that have been realized by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service require a favourable recognition
not least because they have acted as a plus in the transformation of the then prisons service into a Correctional Service. This transformation is aimed at reforming,
rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates back into society and with such positive moves, it could be seen that positive steps have been taken in the right direction under the
leadership of Mr. Sanpha Bilo Kamara.
Sheku Putka Kamara is a BA Hons holder (First class) and an MA Candidate from the Mass Communication Department, Fourah Bay College. He did his
internship in 2014 at the Sierra Leone Correctional Service.