Reports obtained from legal and security personnel regarding Wednesday’s jail break in Voinjama, Lofa County, have confirmed the arrest of 18 of 40 “escaped prisoners.”
In a briefing with reporters in Voinjama City, Lofa County Attorney Luther B. Sumo explained that officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Emergency Response Unit (ERU) personnel from Gbarnga, Bong County, have launched a manhunt for the escaped prisoners.
Attorney Sumo said that as a result of the cooperation of local residents in the villages, several of the escaped detainees from the Voinjama Correction Palace would all be arrested soon.
The ERU security personnel have been deployed in Voinjama City in order to beef up the strength of the police for the Christmas and New Year season.
On December 18, Voinjama’s central corrections facility was hit by a massive jail break. A majority of the escaped prisoners were convicted rapists, murderers, and pretrial detainees.
The Lofa County Attorney explained that the Prison’s Superintendent and staff have complained about the lack of equipment to protect the crowded jail compound in Voinjama.
Other constraints, according to Att’y Sumo include lack of vehicles, communications equipment, and safe drinking water.
“Constant delays on the part of the local court system have led to overcrowdedness at the Voinjama Correction Palace, resulting in the current jail break,” Attorney Sumo also asserted.
“We are making steady progress in cracking down on the escaped prisoners wherever their hideouts may be in order to ensure the protection and safety of the citizens and residents of Voinjama and other towns,” Attorney Sumo assured.
Attorney Sumo sounded an urgent appeal to the Liberian Government, specifically the Ministry of Justice’s Correction Unit, for logistical support that would ensure the protection and safety of the detainees.
Attorney Sumo also added that under the Liberian law, pretrial detainees should not be kept in jail indefinitely as the Liberian Government would be accused of human rights violations.
When contacted yesterday, Lofa County Superintendent George Dunor also underscored the need for improvement of the Voinjama Correction Palace in Lofa County.
Supt. Dunor stated that since the Wednesday Voinjama Correction Palace jail break and subsequent arrest of some of the detainees, Lofa County has remained calm and peaceful.