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THE METAMORPHOSIS FROM THE NIGERIA PRISON SERVICE TO NIGERIA CORRECTIONAL SERVICE: ITS IMPLICATIONS AND WAY FORWARD
The Nigeria prison service and by extension the prisons system, represent traditional criminal justice system of punishment philosophy which places emphasis on merely to punish the offender rather than correction of the offender. The Nigeria prisons has been attributed with a lot of problems ranging from administrative problems, poor financing, poor health care, infrastructural/recreational facilities, prison overcrowding, focus on punishment, lack of rehabilitation, poor training and retraining of prison staff, problem of human resource wastage, too regimental on the inmates and lack of noncustodial services. These highlighted problems mar the aims and objectives of the prison in deterring and rehabilitating the offenders, thus negating the major excesses of imprisonment which are to reform, rehabilitate, and reintegrate the offender into the mainstream of society, thereby making them useful to themselves and the society in general upon release. The prisons lack of rehabilitation of inmates leads to high recidivism of inmates on release. These aforementioned problems triggered the federal government, the national house of assembly, stake holders of the criminal justice system, the United Nations and civil society organisations (international and national) to champion a course on prison reforms through a bill presented by Victor Ndoma-Egba, the former senator and current chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the National House of Assembly in January 2008. For the past 11 years this bill has been there, awaiting the presidential accent, not until 28th Aug, 2019 when the president signed the bill into law; thereby changing the name from “Nigeria Prison Service” to “Nigeria Correctional Service”, this invariably led to a change in structure and functions of the new service, as it included the non-custodial faculty, giving credence to rehabilitations of inmate. The noncustodial faculty includes in it, parole, probation and community services capturing international best practises. Against this background, this work seeks to discuss and examine the metamorphosis from the “Nigeria Prison Service” to “Nigeria Correctional Service”: its implications and way forward, and by extension seek to look at the origin of the Nigeria prison service, the problems of the Nigeria prison system, weave theoretical framework, Further looking at the metamorphosis of the prison with regards to its implications, distinguishing features of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act of 2019, relevance of the Act, presenting a polemical criticism, concluding with recommendations on the way forward.
Keywords: Metamorphosis, Nigeria Prison Service, Correctional Service, Implications, Prison.