The state prison in Kenema was built in 1935. It used to be the main lock up for the Native Administration (NA) for the region. This prison has been going down the drain for years.
In an interview with Awoko the Deputy Regional Commander of the prison, Lamin Gobeh, discloses that that prison is in a deplorable state and over crowded.
He says there are eighteen staff quarters and few have been rehabilitated with an addition of four newly constructed quarters, adding that by January and February 2008 rehabilitation work of the perimeter fence of the prison that will separate both sexes will start.
Mr Gobeh advancing reasons why the prison is over crowded says it currently has 206 inmates instead of 70.
He explains that the Kenema prison takes care of prisoners who are sentenced above three years in both Kono and Kailahun districts.
Also suspects of committed matters from Kailahun district are brought to Kenema because the High Court Judge does not go to Kailahun for court settings, and that the witnesses hardly follow such matters to Kenema.
“This also contributes to over crowding. In Kenema there are two JPs (Justice of the Peace), one magistrate and one judge who decide the fate of the people here… the bail condition is very stiff which has led to many suspects being sent to the prison,” he reveals.
The commander reveals further that 90% of those in the Kenema prison yard are graduates of the NCDDR (National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration) programme even among the females.