All prisons should be turned into skills training centres-Ex-prisoner

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A 75-Year ex- prisoner Davies Mwaba has submitted to the legal and justice Sector Reforms Commission that all prisons in Zambia be turned into skills training centre so that convicts can acquire skills and income while in prison.

Dr. Mwaba who was incarcerated during the liberation of Zambia and after independence observed that the country under-utilized human resource by keeping prisoners confined instead of teaching them skills and utilizing them to work on infrastructural projects.

Dr. Mwaba noted that most of the projects that are being done by Chinese contractors can also be done by prisoners once they are empowered with skills.

Dr. Mwaba who was once imprisoned at Mukobeko maximum Prison for 18 months noted that current prisons are meant to punish inmates instead of being correctional institutions saying prisons are likely to repeat the crime if they serve the sentence without undergoing reformation.

He said Zambia needs to transform its prisons from what they are to correctional centres where inmates will leave with professions and enough resources raised from projects undertaken while in incarceration.

He added that instead of wasting resources on feeding prisoners, the prisons service should be self-sustaining and should be allowed to tender for projects which will be executed by prisoners.

Dr. Mwaba who is a medical Doctor further recommended that prisons should be built away from town as they outskirts have vast space for skills training and suggested that such places should be called prison’s village.

And Dr. Mwaba has observed that the Zambian judiciary has pegged itself out of reach of the ordinary Zambia as the citizens cannot afford to raise finances for both the writ of summon and legal representation.

He noted that the Legal Aid Board exists but the logistical expenses to access their services are beyond the reach of poor Zambians who constitute the majority in the country.

But Law Association of Zambia President George Chisanga wondered whether professionals who are convicted like Dr. Mwaba require retraining in crafts and how they could be utilized to earn some income for the country.

Mr. Chisanga also noted that establishing prisons villages where prisoners should be kept and trained will bring discrimination towards inmates once they are released and integrated back into the society.

Meanwhile, another petitioner Kennedy Malama submitted that the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) should engage highly qualified lecturers with 10 years law practicing experience to tutor students and not practicing lawyers who deliberately fail students to avoid competition in the industry.

Mr Malama stated that practicing lawyers who are currently engaged as lecturers contribute to the high numbers of students failing at ZIALE because they are competitors to them.