Wednesday May 28 2014

261 inmates to voluntarily plead guilty

Inmates at Katojo Prison in Kabarole District.

Inmates at Katojo Prison in Kabarole District. Most prisons countrywide are congested. PHOTO BY RUTH KATUSABE. 


Inmates from various prisons have began voluntarily pleading guilty to their offences under the pilot plea bargaining programme at Nakawa High Court in Kampala.

At least 261 inmates are expected to plead guilty under programme that started on Monday. It is aimed at reducing the case backlog and congestion in prisons.

The programme, which is expected to run for the entire week, is spearheaded by the Judiciary, Uganda prisons, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the Uganda Law Society (ULS).

Targeted districts
DPP Mike Chibita, told the Daily Monitor that the pilot programme will target the districts of Mubende, Mpigi, Kiboga and Wakiso that fall under the Nakawa High Court circuit.

Justice Chibita said out of the 261 inmates who are set to plead guilty on their own, 135 are from Kigo Prison, five from Murchison Bay in Luzira prison, 83 from Mwiyinaina Prison and 17 from upper prison, Luzira.
The programme will be handled by five High Court judges, 20 defence lawyers and 10 state prosecutors.

About the case backlog that stands at 168,141, the DPP said Kigo Prison has 452 inmates waiting to have their cases heard in court, Luzira has 500, while Jinja circuit has 800.

Plea bargaining programme
Plea bargaining is a negotiated agreement between the prosecution and an accused person who is represented by a lawyer.
The accused person then comes before a judge to plead guilty to the charges against him/her in exchange for a lesser sentence without going through a full trial.

For example, if a suspect is facing murder charges and voluntarily accepts to plead guilty at plea taking, his lawyer and the prosecution can ask the judge to hand him a lesser sentence of say life sentence as opposed to the maximum penalty of death by hanging in case he was convicted at the end of a full trial.