Liberia: Harper Central Prison Undergoes Renovation

Ongoing works at the damaged Harper prison facility are now in their advanced stage with Harper Prison's main gate finally being reinstalled. 

The Harper Central prison, the only prison in Maryland County, is being renovated by the county's former Senator Dan Morais. 

The prison was vandalized in 2021 by thousands of angry protesters who had taken the street, demanding "the speedy trial of 18-year-old suspect Moses Mlamah, accused of murdering 22-year-old motorcyclist Mocdicious Nyemah on March 25, 2021."

The destruction left the county without a functional prison and left it abandoned —  forcing authorities to relocate prisoners to Grand Gedeh County.  

But for Morais, who lost the 2020 senatorial election to James Biney, the situation of the county without a prison is pitiful and disgraceful as it makes no sense to see convicted criminals and pretrial detainees sent to nearby counties for them to be imprisoned.

"The absence of a prison facility places the county in more danger from a security standpoint. Right now, the crime rate in the county is increasing daily", the former Senator lamented. "Some of the 91 inmates that broke jail due to the angry protestors invading the prison compound are still out there, despite  causing more havoc to the security of the entire county."

Morais said as a son of the county, he needs not wait on the national government before doing what is better for the county. 

"I will do what I can to have the prison facility in a better condition to host convicts and pretrial detainees. For now, we are focusing on the main gates, gates of the various cells at the prison facility and later on we'll give it a facelift," he noted. "My interest here is to see the prison facilities being useful so that convicted criminals and pretrial detainees cannot be sent to other counties.  It is cost-intensive to plaintiffs, as they are told to show up with the transportation cost of taking convicts and pretrial detainees to designated counties."

According to Morais, he has since sought and received permission from Justice Minister F. Musah Dean for the project. 

The ongoing renovation of the prison compound by Morais came as a result of many outcries from citizens due to an alarming increase in insecurity in the county.

Meanwhile, Morais's gesture has been criticized by some citizens of the county who "see it as a political gimmick due to his intention to recontest the Senatorial election in 2023."

Before the former Senator embarked on the renovation project, the County Superintendent, George Andrew Prowd, constituted a citizens' committee to source funding for the renovation of the prison but things did not materialize.