The purpose of a prison is rehabilitating individuals who have gone astray and, depending on the severity of their crimes, some may be reformed and emerge to become productive members of society. However, a US Correction Officer from the State of Delaware, Lt. Tyrance Moore, has underscored the need for the Liberian government to improve its prison facilities, especially the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), if the desired result should be achieved.
“As a society, how can we expect people to change when we do little to help them, with overcrowded prisons?” Lt. Moore questioned.
Lt. Moore made the call yesterday, when he spoke with journalists at the end of a week-long training of correction officers, held at the compound of the Monrovia Central Prison.
Lt. Moore wondered how government would run a prison facility like the MCP with ten inmates in a single cell.
“That is not how a prison should run,” he said. “Instead, it must be two inmates in a cell, because if there is an outbreak you can easily prevent it. The government needs to put more money into corrections by building modern prison facilities.”
The training, he said, basically focused on managing correction security, writing a report and how to manage inmates and to control rioting in prison.
His statement coincided with the withdrawal of officers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), assigned at the MCP, leaving the security of the facility in the hands of Liberians.
He said in the current administration of correction services, armed police officers should not be assigned at prison facilities. Instead, a group he identifies as “prison emergency team” needs to take care of the prison.
He recommended that the team should be made up of correction officers who must be trained to deal with a situation like a riot.
“You don’t need police coming in here to stop rioting, you need a group that is well trained more than the police to take care of the situation, because, they would be able to use different methods and not force, like the police,” Lt. Moore suggested.
“They can influence the inmates [unlike] the police, because they have the training and the expertise to do so.”
He said it is time for the government to relocate the MCP because of limited facilities to keep inmates.
Commenting on the prison monitoring system, Lt. Moore said since he has been volunteering at the MCP, he has noticed that the government is spending too much money on monitoring prison facilities.
“You don’t need to have more people to monitor the movement in and out of the prison; you just need to set-up cameras around the compound for easy monitoring,” he advised.