At least 10,000 offenders survived prison after they were sentenced to community service in the financial year 2017/ 2018.
Dr Paul Kintu, the director community service in the ministry of Internal Affairs said in the financial 2016/2017, about 11,000 cases were handled but this reduced by 1,000 in 2017/2018.
“In the financial year 2017/2018, we handled about 10,000 cases though the number wasn’t like that of 2016/2017. There are reasons why the number reduced but we are working hard to make sure that this year, we reach our target,’’ said Dr Kintu during the opening ceremony of a refresher training for community service staff held at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel Entebbe on Monday.
Community Service requires that a person who commits a minor offence is sentenced to perform unpaid work in a community for a specific period of time instead of being sent to prison.
“Our focus now is on quality community service order so that an offender is put into consideration in choosing the type of work, the skills and profession of an offender is put into consideration. The work may be specialized or professional work. For instance giving the offender skills like tailoring, carpentry, brick making, toilet construction, general cleaning activities among others,” he added.
According to the first secretary, political affairs and rule of law at the Dutch embassy, Mr Joris Van Bommel, reformation is a task that requires diverse skills given the complexity of emerging crimes.
“Many people are in prison on minor offences which can be resolved through community service. Why would a chicken thief be in prison? Let’s find out why this person stole chicken, the person may have done this because he had no money to take care of his family, the person was hungry therefore in community service all these parties have to be engaged. I am sure that once we do this, the number of inmates can be reduced in prison and as the Dutch government, we are ready to support Ugandan government,” he said.
In 2014, the inmate population stood at 40,526 but has since increased to over 150,000 inmates in the last few years.
In 2017, Uganda Prisons spokesperson, Mr Frank Baine said at least 8,500 inmates were being held at Luzira Prison, a jail that was constructed to house 3,000 detainees.
Most prisoners from Luzira have been taken to Kitalya Prison, in Wakiso District which has a capacity of 1,500 inmates. A mini maximum prison is being constructed at Kitalya to further decongest Luzira.