THE Zambia Prisons Service (ZPS) says drug abuse in prisons has not reached alarming levels, although some prisoners may be liable for the offence.
ZPS deputy public relations officer Stephen Kagoli said although there are some prisoners who have been abusing drugs, the number is negligible, because his organisation has taken a tough stance on the use of prohibited drugs in penal institutions.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Mr Kagoli challenged organisations claiming that the scourge has reached alarming levels to provide empirical evidence.
He said ZPS has noted with concern that some organisations are claiming that inmates have access to prohibited drugs in the confines of the prisons, but they have not formally volunteered such information to his organisation.
“We have an open-door policy where people can be allowed to conduct research,” Mr Kagoli said. “We are inviting those who are claiming that there is rampant abuse of drugs to come and do research,” he said.
Mr Kagoli said ZPS is aware that drug abuse, whether outside or inside prison, is a crime and has been working with the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to sensitise inmates on the dangers of the scourge.
He said some people are jailed for drug trafficking and it is important that while serving their sentences, they are helped to reform, hence their conducting sensitisation campaigns.
“We do understand as Zambia Prisons Service that drug abuse is a crime. It is one of our responsibilities to ensure that we work with DEC and the Zambia Police to enforce the law even in prisons,” Mr Kagoli said.
He also said inmates who leave prisons to go and do some work outside the correctional facilities are subjected to thorough screening when they return to ensure that they do not bring in prohibited substances.
DEC central region commander Gilbert Sinyani had last month called for the elimination of drug abuse in prisons.
Mr Sinyani, speaking during the commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison in Kabwe, said the eliminating of drug abuse in prisons is crucial to ensure order and safety prevail in correctional institutions.