16 January 2013

Liberia: Justice Begins Probation Service

Liberia has formally begun its probation service program for prisoners wanting rehabilitation through community services after they have served one-third of their respective sentences. The exercise, first of its kind in the country, was launched Tuesday, 15 January in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, north-central Liberia.

The ceremony brought together both local and international partners of Liberia as well as senior officials of government, including Justice Minister, Christiana Tah and Acting Chief Justice, Cllr. Francis Korkor

Probation Coordinator, Ali Sylla, told the media that the program would help to prevent inmates from being in jail perpetually, and to re-orientate their minds to behavioral change.

"This is a Justice Ministry project, and is intended to help [our] brothers and sisters in detention to change in attitude by doing community services, particularly those who meet the benchmark having served one third of their terms," Sylla noted.

On May 18, 2012 Minister Tah announced the establishment of the Parole (probational) Board) in accordance with Chapter 44, Section 44.1 of the Criminal Procedures Law of Liberia. The 3-member board is being chaired by Fatu Daramy-Mensah, with Victoria Kahn-Kennedy and Joyce Garnett Cassell-Frankfort as members.

Following its composition, in September it began reaching out to inmates at various prison centers throughout the country, including Tubmanburg, Bomi County; Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, and the Monrovia Central Prison, Montserrado County.

Liberia's Probational Panel Code, Chapter 44, Section 44.1 states amongst many things that a convict, who have served one third of his or her term is eligible to apply for probation or parole. Probation under the law afford first time offenders the opportunity to a second change through assessment, supervision, rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

It is also a condition of releasing prisoner from prison to enable them return to their communities under the supervision of a parole officer before completion of the maximum sentence. This application on the part of the law may have given prisoners across the country the opportunity to change attitude in the society and become new persons.

However, hearings were conducted for the seven rape convicts Tuesday, 8 January at the Monrovia Central Prison. Three (3) of the detainees are reported of being members of the Never-Die Church, who were sentenced 16 April 2007; writes T.K.S.

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