Institutional Repository

A comparative study of prison systems in African countries

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Cilliers, C. H. Stephens, Oluyemi Adetunji 2018-06-04T06:23:25Z 2018-06-04T06:23:25Z 2018-04
dc.identifier.citation Stephens, Oluyemi Adetunji (2018) A comparative study of prison systems in African countries, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <>
dc.description.abstract The situation of prisons in Africa has been of concern to practitioners in the criminal justice system, researchers, policy makers, the government and even international organizations. Likewise, is the challenge of not having adequate information about prison system in Africa. In addition, most African countries are signatories to international treaties and convention regarding the treatment of prisoners, to what extent are prisons in Africa complying with the provisions and recommendation of such treaties and conventions. This study was therefore designed to explore the prison system in Africa countries. As part of its objectives the study explored the prison condition in countries in Africa as exemplified by the physical structure of the prison buildings; living conditions with regards to overcrowding, medical care, separation of categories, food, sanitation, beds and beddings, administration and independent monitoring. Furthermore, the treatment and prison conditions of pre- trial detainees were also considered. Similarly, this thesis evaluated the treatment and prison conditions of prisoners with special needs. This category of prisoners include prisoners with mental health care needs, prisoners with disabilities, foreign national prisoners, older prisoners, prisoners on the death row and prisoners living with HIV/AIDS. The conditions and treatment of women prisoners, pregnant women prisoners, and babies living with their mothers in prison were also discussed. The Nelson Mandela Rules, Kampala and Luanda declarations were employed as a bench mark to ascertain whether the treatment and conditions in prisons in Africa meet up to international standards. The study adopted a qualitative approach of inquiry using literature search as mode of inquiry. Data for the study was obtained from books, reports from international organisations such as United Nations, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Penal Reform International, Amnesty International, international conventions and treaties among others, journals (Local, Africa and International), reports from selected countries, government legislations, policies, Acts, previous studies on prison system, web based information and national data. The review of literature with regards to physical structure revealed that most prisons in African countries do not meet international standards pertaining to the issue of physical structure as most prison building are dilapidated and in bad conditions. The study further revealed that the prisons and treatment of prisoners in African prison do not meet international standards. In specific terms, most of the prisons in countries in Africa are overcrowded; most prisons are also characterized by inadequate medical care with lack of facilities, medical personnel and medications. To a large extent most prisons do not meet international standards with reference to separation of categories as most prisons in countries in Africa lock up awaiting trial persons with convicted persons, minor offenders with adult but in most cases women are separated from men. The food situation in most prisons in countries in Africa did not meet international standards in quantity and nutritional value. The finding of the study indicated that the sanitary conditions in most prisons in countries in Africa is in very poor condition which could lead to an outbreak of diseases, this too did not meet international standards. Most prisons in countries in Africa are typified by lack of beds and beddings, prisoners in some prisons sleep on bare floors while some sleep standing while others sleep in shifts. This condition does not meet international standards. With regards to administration it was equally revealed that the record keeping of most prisons in countries in Africa is inadequate, most prisons do not have an ombudsman where prisoners could lodge their complaints while corruption seem to also be rife. This do not meet international standards as well. However, on a good note, most prisons in countries in Africa do permit independent observers such as NGOs, human rights organisations and international organization to have access to the prisons Furthermore, literature search disclosed that the population of awaiting trial person in prisons in Africa is very high when compared to the total prison population and that some countries in Africa are among countries in the world with highest number of pre - trial detainees. The treatment and living conditions of pre - trial detainees in most prisons in African countries do not meet international standards as they are locked in overcrowded cells, often locked up with convicted persons, no legal representation and having to stay longer that the stipulates without being charged to court. The thesis also conducted literature search on prisoners with special needs and the study point out that in each of the categories, prisons in countries in African countries do not meet international standards. For instance, there are no provisions to meet the mental health care needs of prisoners as there are no mental health practitioners, no facilities and no screening is conducted in most prisons. Similarly, there are no facilities to assist prisoners living with physical disabilities as well as older prisoners. The situation with foreign national prisoners are not different as there are no translation of prison materials that could make them adjust well to prison life, in some cases their consular are not contacted that they are in prison. With regards to prisoners on the death row, their conditions did not meet international standards as they are locked up in solitary confinement for most part of the day and their cells are often dirty with inadequate food and medical care. Some of this category of prisoners have been on the death row for as long as twenty years. For prisoners living with HIV/AIDS their treatment and condition does not met international standards as there are not treatment of any kind neither is there any form of screening conducted for inmates. For women prisoners, the treatment and conditions do not meet international standards as most prisons were not designed with women in mind. The living condition is unsanitary, unhygienic exemplified with inadequate toilet and bathroom facilities as well as no supply of peculiar needs of women such as sanitary towels. Review of literature equally indicates that there is no special treatment given to pregnant women prisoners. For children living with their mothers in prison, their treatment does not meet international standards as there is no special provision made for them, they share food with their mothers, some are locked up with their mothers for hours in overcrowded cells. Based on the finding of this study, some recommendations were made. These include the need to conduct more studies on prisons in countries in Africa, the need to consider reviewing the indigenous methods of treatment of offenders before the advent of colonial masters, need for a synergy amongst all practitioners in the criminal justice. Other recommendations are that there should be more advocacy on the prison conditions, need to establish a special trust fund, involve the private sector as well as professional bodies and to professionalize corrections management en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (xvii, 356 leaves)
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Criminal justice system en
dc.subject International standards en
dc.subject Pre-trial detainees en
dc.subject Prison conditions en
dc.subject Prisoners with special needs en
dc.subject Treatment en
dc.subject.ddc 365.6096
dc.subject.lcsh Prison administration -- Africa en
dc.subject.lcsh Prisoners -- Africa en
dc.subject.lcsh Corrections -- Africa en
dc.subject.lcsh Criminal justice, Administration of -- Africa en
dc.subject.lcsh Detention of persons -- Africa en
dc.subject.lcsh Prisoners -- Civil rights -- Africa en
dc.title A comparative study of prison systems in African countries en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.department Corrections Management en Ph. D. (Criminal Justice System)

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

Search UnisaIR


My Account