Health Profile Of Prison Inmates In Nigerian Prison Services

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

Health Profile Of Prison Inmates In Nigerian Prison Services

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study

Health conditions refer to the health status, health related issues and situations. In this case, with special reference to inmates who are confined in the four walls of the prison.

The word health can be used in a number of ways. In the past health meant only the absence of disease or illness. Today, health has a broader meaning. Health could be seen generally as a state of an individual’s well-being. Health is a requirement for living because the healthier we are the greater our potential for effectiveness. Health enhance our effectiveness hence the saying that health is wealth. Health is defined as a state of being physically and mentally healthy. Oxford advanced learners Dictionary World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a state of complete, physical mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

It means that the body system and its organs are free from all forms of disease and deformity while maintaining a mentally sound health. But in a broader form the definition of health includes economic and spiritual well-being. If this definition is anything to go by, I wonder how many persons can be declared healthy especially in this part of the world.

Going by the discussion, health condition of inmates in Nigerian prisons; Who are the inmates? They are persons who are held by the law of the land in the prisons. Those in detention or incarcerated, because they deviated from the norms of the land. When caught, are arrested by the police who charge the deviant to court and are remanded in prison custody as awaiting trials or sentenced to jail term. If proved guilty by a law court.

History of Nigeria prison service

Before the advent of the British colonial rule in Nigeria, there had been some sort of deprivation of liberty as a form of imprisonment for offence against the community or society. The communities already have their laid down rules and norms. For example some tribal communities have their various ways of punishing the deviant members of the community. The Ogboni house among the Yoruba’s, the Wedos among the Edo served as prisons, in the north the Fulani’s had similar institutions, the Tivs and the Igbo equally had their own way.

The origin of modern Nigeria prison service could be traced to 1861, when the colonial conception of prison was established. The declaration of Lagos as a colony in 1861 marked the beginning of formal colonial machinery of governance. It was in Lagos that the first prison administration designed on British tradition and staffed by officers trained in same British tradition started, when the then Governor (H.S. Freeman) in 1862 was commissioned to appoint Judges and other officers, they saw the need for prisons where persons accused could be kept. Hence in 1872 the first prison Broad street prison was built to accommodate 300 prisoners. The prison ordinances allowing for the establishment of prisons was passed in 1876. By 1910 the colonial government established prisons in Calabar, Onitsha, Benin, Ibadan, Jebba, Lokoja and Degema.

In the colonial era prisons were not designed for reformation, but prisoners were mainly used for public works for slavery and to serve colonial interest of maintaining law and order. Medium security prison Lagos was built in 1958 at Kirikiri Apapa local government with a capacity of 705 persons. It has 15 blocks of building. It was however increased to a capacity of 1,700 in 2010 and presently locks about 2,550 inmates.

The Nigerian prisons service (NPS) was founded as an institution to correct social deviants, punish and reform (F.GN, 1990). The main aim of establishing the prison institution is to provide for reformation and rehabilitation for those who violated the rules and regulations of their society.

The living conditions in Nigeria prisons are appalling and damaging. Inmates are forced to survive in the worst living conditions such as poor sanitation, lack of adequate balanced diet, medication, overcrowding poor clothing and lack of regular visits by family and friends.

In recent times, there has been a marked increase in the number of prisoners in many countries around the world.

According to the world prison population list, prison populations have increased by 73% over a relative short period of time (Walmsley, 2007) as is obtainable in any problems confronting inmates living in prisons all over the world as a result of congestion. These health problems include physical, mental and psychological illnesses. Prisons are not closed off world, many people (Prison staff, lawyers, social workers, health personnel, the clergy and prisoners family members) entering and leaving prison every day. Many prisoners themselves stay only a short period in prison and return to their families. It is estimated that although the worldwide prison population is over 9 million, the annual turnover is closer to 30 million (Walmsley, 2007). This high movement of people into and out of prisons make the possibility of infections acquired in prison transmitted outside prison very high (Simooya, 2010). In spite of this, gap still exist globally in the provision of health care to prisoners especially with respect to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) HIV and other blood borne infections (Long et al, 2001; Kmietowicz 2001).

It has been documented that communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis are more prevalent in prison service inclusive. The Nigeria prisons service (NPS) was founded as an institution to correct social deviants, punish and reform criminals and to complement the processes of legal adjudication and law enforcement (Federal Government of Nigeria, 1990) Nigeria prisons is headed by a Controller General of prisons with six Directorate to manage the various units of prisons, this includes directorate of medical health and social welfare services , whose duty among others includes administration of prison clinics and hospitals with its complement of Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and para-medics.

The directorate ensures all year-round renditions of medical services to inmates in all the prisons nation-wide. To meet these needs, the Nigeria prison in the year 2001 commissioned a 20 bed prison hospitals in Bauchi and Ilesha prison to add to the existing ones in Lagos and Kaduna. (The reformer 2002) to compliment these hospitals are clinics in the entire prisons establishment. The medical and welfare directorate also develops and implement new strategies for confronting changing faces of disease control and management. To this it introduced drug compounding project in the federal capital designed to produce drugs that will support the clinics and hospital network in the prison system.

1.2 Statement Of Problem

In Nigeria just like many other parts of the world, there is an alarming increase in crime rate with the resultant increase in prison population. This situation has an adverse health implication on the inmates due to congestion. Government on their part are not doing enough to contain this situation, the elite and the rich in the society see no need to come to the aid of this neglected and rejected group. Hence even the state government has no provision in its state owned hospitals to exclude the inmates from hospital bills.

This study therefore takes a critical assessment of the health conditions, of prison inmates in Nigerian Prison: Services.

1.3 Purpose Of The Study

The purpose of the study is to:

  1. Examine the health status of prison inmates in the Nigerian prison Services
  2. Assess the living conditions of prison inmates in the Nigeria prison Services
  3. Highlight the role of government in ensuring that Nigerian prisons are properly taken care of
  4. Examine the impact of prison warders on the health condition of prison-inmates
  5. To assess the ways in which the prison inmates can contribute to the economic and social development-of the country after custody.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research-questions were generated to guide the study:

  1. What are the predominant health issues in Nigerian prisons?
  2. Does the condition of prison affect the health of prison inmates
  3. Can the health condition of prison inmates determine their productivity after prison?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The-following hypotheses were, tested in the study;’

  1. There is no significant relationship between condition of prison and health condition of prison inmates in Nigeria
  2. There is no significant relationship between the attitude of prison warders and health condition of prison inmates
  3. There is no significant relationship between the health condition of prison inmates and their productivity after custody.
  4. There is no significant relationship between government intervention and prison condition in Nigeria.

1.6 Significance Of The Study

The study when completed will benefit the country in the following ways:

The government through this study ‘will be acquainted with the Knowledge of the condition of prison inmates in Nigeria as this will make it see the need to provide adequate health facilities and competent trained health personnel to Nigerian Prison Service.

The Nigeria Prison Service will through this study intensify their efforts towards ensuring that the prisons are properly maintained; and are in good sanitary conditions so as to prevent constant outbreak of diseases in the prison.

The general public will be enlightened on the need to accommodate prison inmates as part of the society even though their lives are regimented. This will enable them come out as better and productive individuals in the society.

1.7 Operational Definition Of Terms


Persons confined in a prison.


An institution as one under state jurisdiction for confinement of persons convicted of serious crimes


An official in charge of the operation of a prison


To put in prison


The act of breaking the law


Those who deviate from an accepted norm or behavior


To restore or bring an individual to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity in the society


Diseases resulting from contaminations


A highly variable communicable disease of humans that is characterized by fever, cough, difficulty in breathing


A disease or condition (as hepatitis A, or hepatitis B) marked by .inflammation of the-liver

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