Ghanaian Prison Officer helping prisoners in Liberia to acquire life skills

Ghanaian Prison Officer helping prisoners in Liberia to acquire life skills

UNMIL Corrections Advisor Michael Osei supervising the inmates on a project.

A new project has been added to the several rehabilitation activities being undertaken at the Tubmanburg Central Prison in Bomi County. The new training in shoe-making, a brainchild of UNMIL Corrections Advisor Michael Osei is an addition to various ongoing activities including farming of food crops such as cassava, vegetables, pineapples, and rearing of guinea pigs and rabbits, as well as fine art undertaken at the facility. The training is being conducted by Corrections Officer Sando Brooks, who underwent similar training during the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDDR) period. Before joining the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Brooks was practising shoe-making as a trade.

The shoe-maker-turned-corrections officer said it was a joy for him to help the inmates and his fellow countrymen who have been unfortunate to end up in prison to acquire knowledge and skills which may help them in the future. He noted that many of the youth lack requisite skills and employable trades and many have been forced to engage in misdemeanors and, as a result, end up in corrections facilities.

Corrections Adviser Osei, who is from the Ghana Prison Service, said there was already an existing expertise and it was only right to provide an enabling environment for Brooks to transfer his skills to assist in the rehabilitation of inmates. Acquiring employable skills will enable the inmates live productive lives upon their release from prison and reduce recidivism. The Corrections Adviser also noted that the various rehabilitation activities will also help avert jail breaks, rioting and disturbances, which happen from time to time. He said consultations are ongoing with the County Education Office to introduce functional adult literacy education to equip inmates with numeracy and literacy skills while in custody.

Prison Superintendent Maj. Clarence T. Dono said although the rehabilitation activities are a welcome effort in the rehabilitation process of inmates, the facility faces serious challenges of suitable structures for a workshop, particularly for the newly introduced trade and others that may come in the future. Currently the shoe-making training is being conducted under a temporary shelter. He said efforts are being made to engage stakeholders and well-wishers to facilitate construction of a workshop to provide a conducive learning environment, which will also enhance production of various items. He added that the plan was to generate income from the products to make the venture self-sustaining, as well as to cater to other administrative issues. Part of the proceeds will be distributed to the inmates taking part in the training, who would have accumulated some amount of money as capital to enhance their reintegration back into the society as they tap their entrepreneurial skills.

Inmates taking part in the shoe-making training expressed satisfaction, and hoped that the skills attained would help them become better citizens once out of prison.