The Effectiveness Of The Prison Service In Rehabilitation Of Offenders In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Abakaliki Central Prison)

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

The Effectiveness Of The Prison Service In Rehabilitation Of Offenders In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Abakaliki Central Prison)


Literature debates the success of rehabilitation programmes in recidivism of offenders. This dissertation explores the effect of rehabilitation programmes on sentenced offenders at Abakaliki Central Prison (ACP). Correctional centres offer various rehabilitation programmes with the aim of reducing recidivism and rehabilitating sentenced offenders. The study used a qualitative research design with semi-structured interviews. The findings indicate the perception of sentenced offenders changed from being negative to positive after completion of rehabilitation programmes and that rehabilitation programmes complement the reduction of recidivism. Gangsterism and the language medium was found to be a challenge to offender participation. Upon completion, the programmes were found to enhance offenders` chances of employment post-prison. The study recommends that programmes encourage rebuilding relationships and improves their offered programmes to achieve the success and recommends reinstating a credit system as incentive for participation, and a revision of the language of instruction used on these programmes.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Nigeria is faced with a problem of alarming high numbers of the prison population. Statistics have shown that Nigeria has joined the United States of America, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Thailand and Mexico in the top 11 of the most highly incarcerated countries in the world. This means that Nigeria’s prison population is outranking the prison population of the countries which are five times larger than her national population (The World Prison Brief, 2017:2). This also means that Nigeria’s rate of imprisonment is much higher than that of any other country in Africa (Motlalekgosi, 2015: 181; Gasa, 2011: 1330). Additionally, recidivism rates in Nigeria are estimated to be between 55% and 95% (Lekalakala, 2016:106).

The significance of this study lies in its aim to determine how rehabilitation programmes have affected offenders and why they partake in these programmes. It was done through the use of a case study of the Abakaliki Central Prison (ACP), which is a private prison located in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. The researcher chose this study as he is a sentenced offender incarcerated at Abakaliki Central Prison and he has observed offenders taking part in the rehabilitation programmes of the Centre. The researcher has also partaken in various rehabilitation programmes offered at this Centre. At the time when the researcher was sentenced and admitted at ACP, the researcher only achieved grade twelve and then completed various degrees and certificates through these rehabilitation programmes. It is within this context that the researcher developed passion to explore these rehabilitation programmes further, hence the reason for this study.

This study endeavours to contribute towards a better understanding of rehabilitation programmes of sentenced offenders in Nigeria and will encourage policy makers and practitioners to successfully develop and implement these programmes.

Outlining the effects of rehabilitation programmes, as well as the recommendations of this study can also potentially assist Abakaliki Central Prison and the Department of Correctional Services to develop effective rehabilitation programmes for offenders.

1.2 Problem Statement

Research indicates that a significant number of offenders released from prison reoffend and come back to prison despite having done rehabilitation programmes (Fitz, 2013:14; Swart & Naude 2013: 99). A conflicting view is presented by other researchers that offenders who participate in the rehabilitation programmes are less likely to reoffend than those who do not participate in the offered rehabilitation programmes (Moore, 2016:14; Kheswa & Lobi, 2014:617; Muthaphuli, 2008:195). There is limited information relating to the rehabilitation programmes of offenders serving sentences of incarceration. Also, there are no reliable statistics on recidivism, and as a result the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes is difficult to gauge with any accuracy (Lekalakala, 2016:106; Moore, 2016:14; Tapscott, 2009:12). Thus, the research problem confronting this study was to determine the effect of rehabilitation programmes on sentenced offenders at the ACP.

1.3 Research Questions

Considering the background provided, the following questions provide answers to the research problem:

  1. What rehabilitation programmes are offered to sentenced offenders in ACP?
  2. What are the perceptions of sentenced offenders towards rehabilitation programmes?
  3. How can rehabilitation programmes compliment the reduction of recidivism?
  4. What are the challenges faced by sentenced offenders with regard to rehabilitation programmes?
  5. How can rehabilitation programmes be effectively and efficiently developed and implemented to sentenced offenders.

1.4. Aim and Objectives

The purpose of this study is to explore the rehabilitation programmes of the sentenced offenders in ACP. In order to address the research problem and research questions of the study, the objectives of this study are:

  1. To describe the rehabilitation programmes of sentenced offenders in the ACP.
  2. To explore perceptions of sentenced offenders towards rehabilitation programmes.
  3. To assess how rehabilitation programmes, compliment the reduction of recidivism.
  4. To explore challenges faced by sentenced offenders with regard to rehabilitation programmes.
  5. To provide recommendations for successful development and implementation of effective rehabilitation programmes for the DCS.

1.5 Delimitations and Limitations

This study was not evaluating specific rehabilitation programmes and did not seek to illustrate the difference between two or more rehabilitation programmes. As stated above, the study explored the effect of rehabilitation programmes on sentenced offenders at the ACP.

A potential limitation to this study is the nature of the sample itself. Only male offenders are incarcerated in ACP which limits the generalisability of the results to other correctional facilities where the population comprises of both female and male offenders.

Interviews took place in a room with glass windows. Although interview discussions were not heard, other offenders and correctional officials did visibly witness the participants and saw the offenders who were participating. This could affect the confidentiality of participating offenders. However, the researcher did put notices on the windows warning offenders that a study was in progress.

Due to the exceptional circumstances of this study, appropriate steps were taken to mitigate the overall risk, such as for example, intimidation by correctional officials. The correctional service officials were informed of the potential benefits of the study in advance.

Although one of the main focus areas of the rehabilitation programmes is to ensure a decline in recidivism, the data for this is limited and the conclusions drawn with regards to recidivism in this study ware based on the data collected during offenders’ interviews and cannot be generalised. Thus, the study focused on determining the psychological and emotional effects of rehabilitation programmes on offenders.

1.6. Definition of Terms

The terms utilised throughout the study are defined below. A more detailed discussion on each can be found in Chapter 2:


Rehabilitation is the result of a process that combines the correction of offending behaviour, human development, and the promotion of social responsibility. The term is often used interchangeably with terms such as development and treatment (Mnguni, 2011:31). In this context, it refers to psychological programmes, social programmes, formal education programmes, and vocational programmes (Mnguni & Mohapi, 2015:53; Munguni, 2011:3).


Lock-down refers to an emergency announcement by prison officials that all offender movements ceases. Offenders should remain in their cells (Allen et al, 2010:404).


Recidivism means falling back to crime. It refers to a situation where a sentenced ex-offender is rearrested and sentenced for the second or third time (Gantana, Londt, Ryan & Roman, 2015:80).


Offender is used interchangeable with ‘prisoner’. The term refers to a person (whether sentenced or unsentenced) detained for committing a crime. A sentenced offender is a person who has been found guilty by a court of law and sentenced to incarceration. An sentenced offender is a detained person who is awaiting trial (Motlalekgosi, 2015:8).
Parole refers to a treatment programme in which an offender serving a sentence is, after serving part of a sentence, conditionally released under supervision to spend the remainder of his/her sentence outside of the prison camp (Lekalakala, 2016:5).

Correctional Sentence Plan (CSP)

Correctional Sentence Plan (CSP) refers to a system which identifies and list an individual offender’s needs such as developmental (education and training), security, allocation of accommodation and parole.

Unit Management System

Unit Management System – is a method of correctional centre management where a correctional centre is divided into smaller manageable units with direct supervision (Samuel, 2010:25). This forms the basis for structuring and resourcing at the correctional service level (Fitz, 2013:38).

1.7 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to assess the effectiveness of the prison service in rehabilitation of offenders in Nigeria (a case study of Abakaliki central prison).

1.8 Organization of the Study

The study is organized into six chapters.

  • Chapter one covers; background to the study, statement of the problem, general objective of the study, specific objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, limitation of the study, delimitations of the study, operational definition of terms and organization of the study.
  • Chapter two covers review of related literature arranged as per study objectives and explained from global, regional and narrowing to Nigerian situation while identifying research gaps through local studies done, summary of the literature review, theoretical framework and conceptual framework.
  • Chapter Three covers research methodology which includes: introduction, research design, target population, sampling techniques and sample size, data collection instruments, validity and reliability of research instruments, data collecting procedures, data analysis techniques and ethical considerations.
  • Chapter four covers research results of the study.
  • Chapter five covers discussions and interpretations of research findings.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Research Findings

Table 5.1 presents a summary of the research findings in tabular form for ease of reference as noted in Chapter 4:

Table is available in the complete materials

5.2 Conclusions

The purpose of this study was to explore the rehabilitation programmes of sentenced offenders in the Abakaliki Central Prison (ACP). In Chapter 1 the research questions were posed and the following research objectives stated:

  1. To describe the rehabilitation programmes of sentenced offenders in the ACP.
  2. To explore the perceptions of sentenced offenders towards rehabilitation programmes.
  3. To explore how rehabilitation programmes compliment the reduction of recidivism
  4. To explore challenges faced by sentenced offenders with regard to rehabilitation programmes.
  5. To formulate recommendations for successful development and implementation of effective rehabilitation programmes for the DCS.

Chapter 2 presented the literature review to address the research questions and objectives posed in Chapter one. The literature covered various models of offender rehabilitation such as the Medical Model, the Justice Model, the Reintegration Model, and the Programme- Approach Model. Furthermore, the various rehabilitation programmes, such as the psychological, social, formal education and the vocational programmes were covered.

Chapter 3 outlined the qualitative design and methodology adopted for the study. Semistructured interviews were conducted to gather data in response to the research questions and objectives of the study. Twenty participants were interviewed. All participants were sentenced offenders who participated in the ACP rehabilitation. Anonymity of the study was ensured by using pseudonyms in the interview data so that participants could not be identified from the research reports. The data were analysed and the findings presented in four themes in chapter four. A summary of the major findings was presented in this chapter.

5.3 Areas for Future Research

While the majority of the interviewed participants joined rehabilitation programmes voluntarily other offenders indicated that their participation was not voluntary. Future research is recommended to establish how successful these rehabilitation programmes are with offenders who did not do them voluntarily and it is also suggested that future research could entail a study on the uniformity of rehabilitation programmes at public and private prisons and the success rate of each. It is also recommended that future studies can focus on the effect of rehabilitation programmes on recidivism over a longer period. A final suggestion for future research is also that a similar study can be conducted on an all-female prison or in a co-ed prison.

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