Prison Workers And Their Attitude Towards Inmate In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

Prison Workers And Their Attitude Towards Inmate In Nigeria


The study focused on prison workers and their attitude towards inmate in selected prisons in Nigeria, namely Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos, Kuje Medium Prison, Abuja and Kakuri Open Prison Camp, Kaduna. The research aimed at investigating into the treatment approach adopted by the uniformed staff in handling convicts in their custody; inmates and staff perceptions of the goals of imprisonment; the extent the prisons abide by the Standard Minimum Rules (SMRs) of the United Nations; the nature of inmate subculture in the prisons; and inmates‘ attitude towards the reformation and rehabilitation programmes.

Quantitative and qualitative data were collected for the purpose of tackling the research problem. Questionnaire was the instrument used to collect quantitative data. Total sample sizes of 162 and 135 of inmates and uniformed staff respectively were drawn from sample frames of 485 inmates and 406 uniformed staff which ensured that at least one in every three categories of inmates and staff was included in the sample. Stratified sampling technique was employed to ensure that the prisons were proportionally represented in the study. In each prison, systematic sampling technique was applied to draw the allocated sample sizes of inmates and uniformed staff respondents from the sample frames. Qualitative data were collected from certain categories of inmates and staff in order to complement quantitative data collected from samples of inmates and staff. In-depth interview (using check list) and non-participant observation (using observation guide) were also used in this regard. The respondents here include inmate leaders, inmates attached to reformation and rehabilitation programmes; key administrative officers and reformation and rehabilitation officers/instructors.

The data analysis was carried out at two levels, namely univariate and bivariate. Among other things, the study revealed that the uniformed staff were liberal-oriented in their attitude towards the inmates which ushered in good relationships between staff and inmates; that staff and inmates perceived the imprisonment goals differently; that most essential rules of the SMRs were not complied with; that the inmate government (inmate subculture) differed considerably in modus operandi from the conventional inmate subculture; and the inmates had positive attitude towards the reformation and rehabilitation programmes. In view of the findings, the researcher recommended both short-term and long-term measures to tackle the challenges facing the prisons.

The short-term measures include exploring non-custodial punishments for minor criminal and civil offences instead of over-reaching the Criminal Justice System (CJS); adequate separation of convicts in prison custody to avoid the devastating effects of prisonization; and adequate funding of prisons by the government concerned. Long-term measures include separation of prisons and jails; systematic conversion of warders to liberal treatment officers; and official establishment of participatory government in prisons in view of the cordial relationships between prison authority and the inmate government. Suggestions for further researches include periodic studies of discharged inmates and examining the dynamic interplay between inmates‘ attitude to rehabilitation programmes and post release success.

Table Of Contents

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background to the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of Research Problem
  • 1.3 Research Questions
  • 1.4 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.5 Significance of the Study
  • 1.6 Scope of the Study

Chapter Two:

Literature Review And Theoretical Framework

  • 2.1 Conceptual Review
  • 2.2 Treatment Approach adopted by the uniformed Staff in Handling Inmates
  • 2.3 Observance of the UNs‘ SMR by Member Nations
  • 2.4 StaffInmates Perceptions of the Goals of Imprisonment
  • 2.5 Nature of Inmate Subculture

Chapter Three:


  • 3.1 Location of Study
  • 3.2 Types and Sources of Data
  • 3.3 Techniques of Data Collection
  • 3.4 Population and Sampling
  • 3.5 Techniques of Data Analysis
  • 3.6 Problems encountered

Chapter Four:

Data Analysis And Interpretation

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Sociodemographic Data of Convicts and Staff
  • 4.3 The Role of some Demographic Attributes on the behaviour of Inmates and Staff
  • 4.4 Treatment Approach adopted by Uniformed Staff in Handling of Inmates113
  • 4.5 Perceived Goals of Imprisonment by Staff and Inmates
  • 4.6 Extent Treatment of Inmates meets the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Prisoners
  • 4.7 Inmate Subculture in Nigerian Prisons
  • 4.8 Inmates‘ Attitude towards Reform and Rehabilitation programmes
  • 4.9 Testing of Hypotheses

Chapter Five:

Discussion Of Findings, Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

  • 5.1 Discussion of findings
  • 5.2 Summary of Major Findings
  • 5.3 Conclusion
  • 5.4 Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendices

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Prior to the introduction of the contemporary prisons in Nigeria, various indigenous societies had ways of, and institutions for, dealing with criminals. Such ways included fine, flogging, mutilation, amputation, ostracism, banishment, enslavement and execution, depending on the gravity of the offense committed. Holding facilities existed in many societies such as Ogboni House in Yorubaland, Ewedo in Edo Kingdom, Ulo Nga in Igboland and Gidan Yari in Hausaland (Awe, 1968; Ahire, 1990). Ayittey (1991) maintained that all over the world, ―interned inmates (prisoners) are generally regarded as criminals, yet the way a nation treats her prisoners is a good measure of the humanity of its government and citizens.‖ According to Nwolise (2010), African societies, prior to the invasion of the continent by the slave dealers (1440s) and colonial master (1850s), had their respective and effective criminal justice systems, but no prisons.

Ayittey (1991) further attested that there were laws, (unwritten constitution, traditions, customs, codes of morality, conventions, covenants, and pronouncements of kings – in- Council); law enforcement institutions (King‘s messengers, the youths, age grades, female groups,secret societies, masquerades etc), courts (King‘s court, people‘s Court, etc), and corrections processes aimed not at punitive and retributive goals but at delivering justice, restoring and promoting social harmony through restoration/restitution and compensation.

The contemporary Nigerian Criminal Justice System (CJS), which prison is a part of, was introduced by the British Colonial Government (Awe, 1968; and Orakwe, 2011). Criminal Justice System is an organized legal institution which is made up of three major components, namely, law enforcement, judiciary and correctional institutions. Newman (1978) defines the system as a loose federation of agencies, each separately budgeted, each drawing its manpower from separate wells and each a profession unto itself. Moore (1997) noted that Criminal Justice System is not a system in the sense that the component agencies are centrally controlled by an authority but that the agencies are linked through a process in which the ―outputs‖ of one agency become the ―inputs‖ of the next agency in the criminal justice process. It is the machinery through which an accused person is processed and disposed (Dambazau, 1999).

Normally, the Criminal Justice System is responsible for the regulation and control of criminal behaviour as well as the instrument of maintaining order, peace and justice. The Criminal Justice System is the manifestation of society‘s use of due process (Macionis, 2009). The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (amended) requires that the society responds to crime using due process. This implies that the Criminal Justice System must operate within the ambit of the law in handling the cases of suspected criminals. According to the Constitution, no person will be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In view of these provisions, those charged with crimes have the right to defend themselves and to confront their accusers; they have a right to legal counsel and a speedy, impartial and public trial; they can refuse to testify against themselves; and they cannot be tried twice for the same crime (1999 Constitution (amended), chapter 1v:33-45). Perhaps, brief explanations of the major subsystems of the Criminal Justice System will help us to appreciate it the more.

The Police: The annexation of Lagos as an extension of British Government in 1861 marked the beginning of the institution of formal machinery of governance in Nigeria (Orakwe, 2011). At this point in time, the British colonial government was chiefly concerned with the protection of legitimate trade; guarantee the profit of British merchants as well as the activities of missionaries (Ahire, 1990).In view of this, Mr. McCrosky, the then acting governor of the colony, and a prominent British merchant in Lagos, formed a police force of about twenty-five (25) constables (Obilade, 1979) and that marked the beginning of police force in Nigeria.

The police are the most visible component of the Criminal Justice System in view of the fact that they maintain regular direct contact with the public. The agency provides entry into the Criminal Justice System either through crime reports from the members of the public or through its discoveries and investigations. A policeman, as the saying goes, is the ―gate-keeper‖ of the Criminal Justice System. This is because he determines who enters into the Criminal Justice System and his decision has wider implications for other subsystems (Dambazau, 1999). In the course of his duty, a policeman exercises much discretion which affects the entire Criminal Justice System in the long run. He determines whether or not a given act is an offense; where to patrol; who to interrogate; what to investigate, and what to report officially.

The Nigerian police encounter many difficulties in performing their constitutional duties. The work of investigation requires the investigating police officer to visit the location of the scene of crime, recoding of testimony and making arrest wherever desirable. Unfortunately, the police are very unpopular among the populace and therefore lack their much required support and cooperation. Generally, the police have negative image as being corrupt, unfriendly and coercive.

The Courts: Prior to the British colonization and occupation of the territories which comprised what is known as Nigeria today, the indigenous people had developed a system of maintaining law, order and justice (Obilade, 1979; Okonkwo, 1990). In most of the areas which constituted what is today known as Northern Nigeria, the law in force was the Muslim law of Maliki School based on the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad; in the areas now constituting the Southern Nigeria and some parts of the territories now the northern states, the law in force was unwritten customary law (Obilade, 1979; Okonkwo, 1990; Dina, Akintayo and Ekundayo, 2005).

During the period in question, the British and other foreign merchants had already started to trade with the indigenous people on the coast of West Africa-Lagos, Benin, Bonny, Brass, New Calabar (Degema) and Old Calabar (Calabar) (Obilade, 1979). Then, it was the duty of the local courts to settle trade disputes between foreign and indigenous traders (Dina, Akintayo and Ekundayo, 2005). However, the foreign merchants were not satisfied and complained to their home governments that they hardly obtained justice in the native courts. Consequently, in 1949, the British government appointed the first consul for the purpose of regulating the trade between the British and indigenous traders (Obilade, 1979). The consul established consular courts which dealt with trading disputes between British and indigenous traders. In addition, equity courts were jointly established by British and indigenous traders in coastal areas of Benin, Bonny, Brass and Calabar (Obilade, 1979; Dina, Akintayo and Ekundayo, 2005).

At Independence in 1960, Nigeria evolved a legal system but not very different from what it inherited from the colonial masters. The constitution of 1999 (as amended) primarily charged the judiciary with the responsibility of law-making and to follow the law-making procedures as specified in sections 58 and 59.

The courts constitute the second subsystem of the Criminal Justice System which is set up to define, interpret and apply the law, and ensure its enforcement for the purpose of maintaining tranquility in society. The court stands for justice, depicted by the justice scale. The courts consist of lawyers, judges and jurists who are expected to discharge their constitutional responsibilities without fear or favor, hence the independence of the judiciary enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

The judiciary which comprises the courts is referred to as ―the last hope of the common man‖. By implication, it serves as an avenue for any person wronged, whether poor or rich, to obtain redress. When a crime is committed and the suspect arrested, formal action must be channeled through a court. It is a court that has the legislative competence to determine guilt or innocence of the accused. Any person who trespasses by the way of harming the accused is liable to prosecution in the court of law for taking laws into his hands.

Like the police, colonial courts (consular courts) established by the British government at the Lagos colony were meant to protect the business interests of the British merchants who felt that the native courts that were arbitrating in trading disputes between them and indigenous traders were not in their favor. Through the importation and imposition of English law-common law, equity and English statutes-the British colonial government legally created a favorable business environment to enable British merchants to exploit their indigenous counterparts. Local laws and customs were relegated by subjecting them to the tests of repugnancy to natural justice, equity and good conscience (Obilade, 1979).

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

The study centres on two key variables: ―handling of inmates‖ and ―inmate subculture‖, hence the need to understand the concepts. ―Handling of inmates‖, as conceived here, refers to the process, or manner of approach, adopted by prison staff towards or in dealing with the prisoners under their custody. It embraces all the measures (both official and unofficial) the staff take in order to relieve, cure, or correct the inmates of their criminality. The United Nation‘s Standard Minimum Rules (SMR) for the treatment of offenders (part 1, section 1-55), with respect to the handling of inmates, clearly stipulated the following: absence of discrimination in the treatment of prisoners; proper classification and separation of prisoners according to sex, age, criminal records, the legal reasons for their detention and the necessities of their handling.

Handling of inmates varies from time to time and place to place, depending on the societal perceptions and reactions to crimes and criminals. Wormith and Andrews (1984) maintained that the physical, emotional and psychological prison environment faced by inmates is determined by the prevailing beliefs and attitudes held by the criminal Justice System and the general public concerning the appropriateness of certain types of punishment. According to Wormith and Andrews (1984) some societies maintain that in order for a punishment to be acceptable to the public, it must clearly demonstrate adverse effect. Other societies insist that the punishment of incarceration does not have to, and should not, be equated with harm and that the creation of a humane and effective prison environment requires the development of mechanism with which to reduce deprivation of liberty (John Howard Society of Alberta, 1999).

Inmates in prisons are not entirely isolated from one another but, more often than not, interact as members of a community. Williams and Fish (1974) and Clemmer (1958) maintained that as members of a community, inmates have culture of their own with norms and values which guide their conduct of behaviour and attitudes.
Unpalatable stories and remarks abound as regards treatment of the inmates, prison facilities and condition of inmates in Nigerian prisons. Many people believe that overcrowding in Nigerian prisons contribute significantly to bad prison conditions to which inmates are subjected. Talking about inadequate Nigerian prison infrastructure, Orakwe (2011) maintained that whatever the demerits the prison system bequeathed Nigeria at the end of the colonial rule, it is by and large far more progressive than the prison structure in Nigeria today.

The overcrowding in Nigerian prisons has been seriously blamed on the judiciary and the police who fail to see that justice is delivered in good time. Ugwuonye (2011) maintained that in Nigeria, instead of disposing of bail application with priority and urgency that would accord meaning and effect to the constitutional presumption of innocence, the courts adjourn bail hearings many times while remanding the suspects in police cells or prison custody. In some cases, judges impose excessive and harsh bail terms which force suspects to remain in custody even after being admitted to bail.

Overcrowding in prisons has serious negative implications on the treatment of the inmates. Accommodation, classification, bedding, feeding, medical care and personal hygiene of the inmates, as well as reformation and rehabilitation facilities, are adversely affected. In his ―Comparative Criminology Tour of the World‖, Winslow (2001) maintained that in Nigerian prisons, disease was pervasive in the cramped, poorly ventilated facilities, and there was chronic shortage of medical supplies. Food was irregularly supplied; some inmates had to provide their own food. Petty corruption among prison officials made it difficult for money provided for food to reach inmates. Bed or mattresses were not provided to many inmates, forcing them to sleep on concrete floors, often without blankets. Police and prison officials often denied inmates food and medical treatment as a form of punishment or to extort money from them.

Empirical observations have shown that prisons are not handling inmates they hold hostage as required by the rules. The uniformed staff adhere to the idea that correction of inmates requires strict discipline, regimentation and punishment, all in the atmosphere of impersonality and quasimilitary rigidity (Ikoh, 2011). In view of this, inmates‘ mails are censored, visitation is closely and strictly monitored, privacy is virtually nonexistent, feeding is poor, inmates appear halfnaked and inmate distance is maintained through coerced deference by mass handling of inmates.

Such conditions influence Alemika‘s (1987) conclusion that Nigeria‘s prisons are human warehouses and Eze and Okafor‘s (2007) opinion that the prisons are breeding grounds for criminals. If the above stated conditions really exist in the prisons, the question is: how will they be erased, especially the inhuman manner of handling inmates, in order to achieve the much desired goals of reformation and rehabilitation? The answer to the problem also lies within the boundary of this study.

1.3 Research Questions

In view of the research problem above, the research is directed towards finding answers to the following questions:

  1. What treatment-approach is adopted by the prison workers in handling of inmates under their custody?
  2. How do the staff and the inmates conceive the reasons for imprisonment in Nigeria?
  3. How are the inmates of Nigerian prisons handled ( in terms of accommodation, classification, clothing, feeding, medical care, personal hygiene, contact with the outside world, punishment, labor, etc) vis-a-vis the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules (SMRs) for treatment of prisoners?
  4. What is the nature of inmate subcultures in Nigerian prisons?
  5. What is the inmates‘ attitude towards reformation and rehabilitation programmes?

1.4 Aims and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to investigate the prison workers and their attitude towards inmate in Nigeria. In order to achieve this, the following specific objectives are pursued:

  1. To find out the treatment approach applied by the prison workers in handling inmates in their custody;
  2. To examine how both staff and inmates conceive the reasons for imprisonment in Nigeria;
  3. To establish the extent to which handling of prisoners in Nigeria meets the United Nations
    Standard Minimum Rules for treatment of prisoners;
  4. To ascertain the nature of inmate subculture in Nigerian prisons; and
  5. To find out inmates‘ attitude towards the reformation and the rehabilitation programmes.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study hinges on two major variables, ―handling of inmates‖ and ―nature of inmate subculture‖. These two variables are two sides of the same coin which cannot be sidelined in any package meant for the reformation and rehabilitation of prison inmates. Inmates are human and very sensitive to the ways they are handled by uniformed staff and that invariably determines the nature and operation of their subculture. The study establishes the important link between the variables that will guide both policy makers (the National Assembly) and policy implementers(prison administrators) to create favourable prison environment needed to achieve rehabilitative model prison.

Secondly, review of literature revealed that most prison studies done in Nigeria are at individual unit of analysis which lack generalization. Moreover, those that cut across prisons failed to take into consideration the different levels of prisons in the country. This multi-level prison study, hence multi-level analysis, cut across minimum, medium and maximum prisons in Nigeria. Therefore the findings are reflective of the prison situation in the country and serve as better reference.

Thirdly, inmate subculture, more often than not, is seen in negative light. It is seen to be antiprison administration and that it functions to frustrate reformation and rehabilitation goals. On the contrary, this study has established through its findings that inmate subculture, as exists in the prisons, is pro-administration in all its ramifications and brings good relationship between staff and inmates. The leaders cooperate with the prison authority and are used by it to maintain discipline, law and order in the place. In view of this, the study has found out that the inmate subculture as it operates in the prisons could be employed to achieve therapeutic environment in prison which will go a long way in addressing inmates‘ problems.

The components of the Criminal Justice System-the police, the courts and the correctionsinfluence one another and therefore could not be treated in isolation. The output of the police is the input of the court whose output becomes the input of the corrections. In view of these functional relationships, any sub-system that fails to discharge its responsibilities well is very likely to affect others adversely. Most of the problems of the Nigerian prisons are compounded by the police and the courts. In view of this, the study established that a holistic approach to tackling the problems of the CJS is very fundamental in solving the problems of prison.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study is focused on prison workers and their attitude towards inmate in Nigeria. In view of this, the researcher examined the treatment approach adopted by the uniformed staff, staff- inmate relationship, rehabilitation programmes and facilities in the different security prisons. Attention was paid to the indicators of inmates‘ treatment as operationalized using the United Nations recommendations. They included accommodation of inmates, separation of the inmates on the basis of sex, age, nature of offence and jail experience; inmates‘ punishment, feeding, clothing, personal hygiene, labour, education, religion and contact with the outside world. It was also within the preview of the study to examine staff and inmates‘ conceptions of the prison goals and the aftermath.

Finally, the study was carried out only in three selected security prisons in the country, namely,
Kuje Medium Prison Abuja, Kakuri Open Prison Camp Kaduna and Kirikiri Maximum Prison Lagos.Kuje Medium Prison and Kirikiri Maximum Prison are selected based on their location to important cities of Lagos (former capital of Nigeria) and Abuja (the Federal Capital Territory) which attract people from various parts of the country. In view of this, the prisons are bound to comprise prisoners from diverse cultures of Nigeria. Kakuri Open Prison is a minimum convict prison in terms of surveillance and control of the inmates. It is considered as a model minimum prison capable of representing satellite prisons, prison camps and prison farm settlements in the country. Only the uniformed staff of all cadres and the convicted inmates constituted the study population.

Chapter Five

Discussion of Findings, Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Discussion of Findings

In the study, the data on the socio-demographic profiles of inmates revealed that inmates within the age bracket of 18-35years ranked the highest in number and those that clocked up 54years or older were the least in number. Further examination revealed that inmates that had been convicted for ‗twice and more before‘ were the highest in number within the age bracket of 1835years. This finding corroborates Farrington (1986) and Loeber and Leblanc (1990) who provided a useful review of the role of age and developmental stages in a criminal career. It is also in line with Sykes and Matza‘s (1957) explanation of a phenomenon known as ‗aging-out process‘ or ‗maturing out of crime‘ in which people drift out of criminal behaviour as they grow older and embrace conventional patterns of behaviour.

At youthful age, individuals justify and neutralize guilt which enables them to feel good about themselves but at older age they forgo crimes and subterranean behaviour and drift back to conventional patterns of behaviour. Moreover, the stark realities of life in Nigeria leave many youth with little or no option but to take to crime in order to survive. Nigeria‘s economy is dwindling and unemployment, especially among the youth, has reached its peak. In a growing population, the youth constitute the largest sector of the population and without adequate planning for their employment and welfare, especially after graduating out of school, rate of crime will be on the increase..

Furthermore, the data on inmates‘ profiles revealed that majority of inmates came from poor socio-economic background as that was evident in their little or no formal educational attainment in view of their fathers‘ occupations, type of residence and the lowest echelon of preincarceration occupational employment. This finding corroborates the Alliance for Education (2013) which maintained that there is a link between poor family background, lower level of education and high rates of arrest and incarceration.

The World Bank (1996) reported that about 71% of Nigerian households are poor with half of this classified as ‗core poor‘. The poor are always at the receiving end of the cost of social change which often leads many to lives of crime in order to survive. In Nigeria, under the policy of Urban Renewal Project, the poor who have ‗illegal structures‘ in cities and urban areas in forms of houses and shops are mostly affected. The demolition of Umoroko settlement in Lagos is a case in point. The same is obtainable in other states in the federation. The situation explains the reason why the prisons are mostly inhabited by the wretched, the uneducated, the destitute, the trodden and the powerless as the socio- economic background, education and occupations of the inmates testified.

The data on the socio-demographic profiles of the uniformed staff revealed that males outnumbered females and that majority of the uniformed staff members had acquired university degrees/equivalents in relevant disciplines. With reference to handling of inmates, the data analysis revealed that majority of the uniformed staff members were humane and rehabilitation oriented in the manner they handled inmates. However, the chi-square test of the techniques adopted by categories of staff in handling inmates shows that there a significant difference in the ways categories of staff handle inmates. While majority of senior staff members indicated rehabilitation approach, some intermediate staff and junior staff members preferred custodial punitive measures. This finding is in line with Gatotoh et al (2011) which maintained that officers with higher education were more likely to have positive attitude towards rehabilitation and treatment programmes. The finding is also consistent with Gulleng (2011) which indicated that the highest number of junior staff and majority of intermediate staff showed their support for the effectiveness of punishment in correcting offenders.

The corollary of the finding is that since the junior uniformed staff members are the ones that carried out instructions and are in more frequent contact with the inmates than senior officers, the rehabilitation objectives are unlikely to be met. Moreover, conceptual acceptance is different from the practical reality. The Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) pays lip service to rehabilitation objective and does everything possible to ensure that custodial principles are carried out to the latters. The introduction of the uniformed staff armed squad in the prisons buttresses the point. This is the reason Okunola, et al (2002) maintained that in order to pursue the primary objective, in a typical Nigerian prison efforts are geared towards preventing escape and checking external influence, hence most strategies are directed toward custody.

Staff and inmates perceptions of the goals of imprisonment are explored as the second objective of the study. The findings of the study revealed that staff and inmates‘ views on imprisonment goal are in opposition. Majority of staff believed that the goal of imprisonment is to train and rehabilitate inmates instead of punishment. This finding is contrary to previous studies such as Adetola‘s (1991) study of Ado-Ekiti prison which found that out of 109 staff respondents, 102 identified custodial goal of imprisonment. Njideka‘s (2000) study of Gusau Medium Prison revealed that out of 98 staff respondents, 86 maintained that imprisonment goal is to ensure that inmates do not escape.The reason for this incongruity is not far-fetched. In the recent time, serious unemployment in Nigeria has pushed graduates of universities and other tertiary institutions to many fields of work they were rejecting before, including the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS). This has boosted the calibre of prison staff with high qualified personnel that really understand and appreciate the essence of humane treatment in rehabilitation of inmates. Hence, their orientation and attitude towards inmates and prison work generally differ considerably from those of earlier warders with little or no sound education.

On the part of inmates, this study found that overwhelming majority of inmates perceived the goal of imprisonment to be punishment rather than rehabilitation. This finding is in line with Eze and Okafor‘s (2007) view that most inmates consider prison as a place for punishment than rehabilitation. It is a terrible punishment to remove one from one‘s natural environment and confine one in a place where movement is highly restricted for months or years. Therefore irrespective of the treatment approach adopted by the uniformed staff in handling inmates, they must perceive the goal of their imprisonment as punishment; more so when many of them claimed that they did not perpetrate in the crimes they were jailed for.

The third objective of the study examined the treatment of prisoners in view of the United Nations standard minimum rules. With regard to the UN SMR 8 on separations of categories, the study revealed that the prisons performed well in the area of separation of convicts and awaiting trial inmates only.The least area practiced by the prisons, in view of the study, is separation of young and adult offenders. Also, the prisons failed to separate inmates by nature of offence and frequency of crime convictions. This finding corroborates the findings of previous studies such as Obioha (1995), Abiodun (1998) and Nwezeh (2010) that found that classifications of inmates in Nigerian prisons do not take into consideration ages, criminal records and terms of prison being served by inmates.

The implication of improper classification of inmates is cross-fertilization of minor and first time offenders by the hardened criminals. This explains the reason why convicts are said to be more hardened on release than when they went in and also accounts for high rate of recidivism as observed by Labo (2004) and Anujuru (2011) that nearly fifty percent of prison inmates in Nigeria are recidivists.

The study shows that in all the prisons majority of inmates were always in mufti instead of the normal prison uniform. The finding concurs with Obioha (1995), Amnesty International (2008), Winslow (2001) and Ugwuonye (2011) who maintained that Nigerian prisoners were not given uniform. This result is contrary to the requirement of the UN Standard Minimum Rule 17.

However, unlike what some authors such as Tanimu (2010, Olanrewaju, Waheed and Olabulo (2011) and Amnesty International (2008) claimed, inmates were neither naked nor half-naked; rather they appear in their personal cloths.

In the same manner it has been discovered that the prisons failed to comply with the UN standard minimum rule of providing inmates with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, though inmates have three meals daily. This finding is in line with Amnesty

International (2008) report on Nigeria prison, Osaze (1996), Winslow (2001) and Obioha (2011). Nonetheless, the prisons to a large extent complied with the requirement of providing water for inmates. The finding reveals that in the prisons, inmates are regularly supplied with water for drinking, bathing and other personal hygiene. This contradicts the report of Amnesty International (2008) which maintained that in many Nigerian prisons toilets are blocked and overflowing or simply nonexistent and there is no running water.

In terms of health care delivery, the prisons studied had clinics/sick bays. They had resident medical doctors (except in Kakuri open prison where the doctor was on call), qualified nurses and other health workers. However, with regard to health care delivery of inmates especially pharmaceutical supplies, all the prisons studied fell short of what is expected based on the UN minimum standard treatment of inmates. More often than not, sick inmates were given prescriptions to go and buy the drugs. This finding is in line with Osaze (1996), Nwezeh (2010), Tanimu (2010) and Obioha (2011), findings that prison clinics were starved of drugs and other essential medicaments. With regard to frequently used means of inmate punishment, the study found that the practice of solitary confinement is common and this is contrary to the UN minimum standard treatment with regard to discipline of inmates. With regard to contact with the outside world, the prisons studied complied with the UN minimum standard treatment rule 37 as inmates were allowed to receive visitors.

Concerning accommodation and sanitation, Kirikiri maximum and Kuje medium prisons have good structures and maintained a fairly clean environment with exception of Kakuri open prison that has unkempt dilapidated buildings. The prisons are not congested as frequently claimed by some reports such as Amnesty international report (2008) and Orakwe (2011) which maintained that the prison buildings, in their decay, now house over three times the number of prisoners the colonial administrators would have accommodated in them. Ajayi (2012) maintained that records showed that Kirikiri Maximum Prison was overcrowded by 250%; the prison which was built for 956 inmates was then occupied by over 2,600 inmates, he claimed. However, the study revealed that there is provision of more accommodations for inmates. For instance, Kuje Medium Prison, Abuja was initially established to hold 160 inmates (80 double – bunk – bed spaces). At the time of the study, the holding capacity of the prison was 560 inmates due to provision of more accommodation for inmates. In Kirikiri Maximum Prison, there are new hostel blocks built for inmates awaiting trial. Without proper investigation one would run into erroneous conclusion of gross congestion of the prisons based on the initial holding capacities.

The study shows that in the prisons awaiting trial inmates‘ population is far greater than the convicts except in Kakuri Open Prison where awaiting trial inmates are not applicable. The finding corroborates the report of Amnesty International (2008) that Nigerian prisons are filled with people whose human rights are often violated and that approximately 66% of the inmates are awaiting trial detainees most of whom have been waiting for trial for years in vain. Okweezy (2011) and Orakwe (2011) maintained that awaiting trial inmates constitute up to two-thirds of the prison population and many of them have stayed up to one to five years. The National Working Group on Prison Reform and Decongestion (NWGPRD) (2005) maintained that out of about 45,000 prison inmates, 65% of them comprised awaiting trial. This fact is also corroborated by the past Comptroller-General of Nigerian Prisons Service, Mr. Olusola Ogundipe, who testified during public hearing on the proposed prison amendment bill before the Senate Committee on Interior that pre-trial detainees constitute about 80% of the prison population; most of them are held for minor offences for which bail is available, he affirmed.

The fourth objective of the study explored the nature of inmate sub-culture in the prisons. The findings of the study revealed that inmate subculture exists in the prisons in form of Inmate Government. The study further revealed that the subculture was not operating underground or secretly as documented by Clemmer (1958), Sykes (1971), Sykes and Messiner (1960) but was recognized and manipulated by the prison authority to its own advantage. This finding corroborates Okunola, et al (2002) who maintained that inmate subculture in prison is not always anti-social and anti-administration; that there is a hierarchy of inmate officials who command the respects of other inmates and more often than not are recognized and utilized by the prison authority.

Furthermore, the study shows that inmate government plays supportive functions in prison administration aimed at ensuring law and order within the prison, inmates‘ compliance with the orders of the superintendent, inmates‘ respect and obedient to constituted authorities, and that erred inmates are brought to justice. The finding of the study is in line with Okunola, et al (2002) observation as they noted the same cooperation of the inmate subculture and the prison authority. They maintained that though the administration of the informal organization had no locus standing in the prisons studied, it acquired some recognition to the extent that it acted as the link between inmates and staff. According to them, the officials of the subculture had been found to be on the fringes such that at one time they acted as officials even to other inmates and at another time as spokesmen for the inmates.

In terms of inmate code, the rules, regulations, norms and values that governed the conducts of the inmates were enacted and operated as ‗Inmate Constitution‘ which was very much influenced by the authority. Certain maxims which were said to be characteristics of inmate subculture in traditional custodial – oriented prison (Sykes, 1960, Sykes and Messinger, 1971) were examined and found not to be practiced by inmates in the prisons studied. For instance, majority of inmates maintained that prison officials are not always wrong and inmates are right; that they would prefer to obey a warder‘s order to inmate leader‘s order and the like. All these imply that inmate solidarity in the prisons was not against the prison authority but pro-prison administration as the prison authority involved the inmate government in its administration. The prison authority ruled the inmate government while the inmate government ruled the inmates.

The fifth objective of the study examined inmates‘ attitude towards rehabilitation and reformation programmes. The study found that participating inmates have positive attitude towards rehabilitation and reformation programs. Vocational and educational programmes were in operation in Kuje medium prison and Kirikiri maximum prison. However, Kakuri open prison lagged behind in other programmes instead farming was practiced. Moreover, existing rehabilitation programmes in all the prisons were inadequate and operated below expectations due to non-availability of fund, inadequate instructors and equipment. The above finding supports the results of Ayuk, Owan and Ekok (2013) in Afokang Prison, Calabar and Asokhia and Agbonluae (2013) in Edo prisons. This finding also corroborates Uma (2004) who maintained that lack of funding appeared to be the main reason for lack of materials and failure to replace worn-out equipment and machines used for reformation and rehabilitation. Lack of qualified personnel to operate these machines and engage the prisoners in meaningful course of training has been identified as a major factor and at the end, prisoners are discharged without being reformed and rehabilitated.

5.2 The Summary of Major Findings

The data on inmate profile showed that age distribution of inmates comprises a mixed population of both youthful and middle aged inmates. Data revealed that the level of educational attainment of inmates was very low as majority of the inmates (53.6%) had first school leaving certificate.

Data revealed that Inmates‘ occupation prior to imprisonment depicted that they were in a relative disadvantaged socio-economic class and that significant number of inmates were unemployed. Majority of inmates were self- employed as commercial drivers, artisans, farmers and petty trader before incarceration. The high concentration of inmates in self- employment could be attributed to the low educational attainment of inmates. The staff profile showed that majority of them had acquired university degrees in various disciplines.

The study examined the treatment approach of uniformed staff in handling inmates in the prisons. The findings of the study revealed that most staff in the prisons were oriented towards humane treatment approach in handling inmates under their custody as they believed that criminals were helpless victims of circumstances and maladjusted persons that needed help.

The findings of the study revealed that staff and inmates‘ views on imprisonment goal were in opposition. Majority of the staff believed that the goal of imprisonment was to train and rehabilitate inmates instead of punishment. On the part of inmates, this study found that overwhelming majority of the inmates perceived the goal of imprisonment to be punishment rather than rehabilitation. That was not surprising as most inmates in this study claimed not to be at fault for the offence committed. In view of this, they believed that their imprisonment was unjust.

The study examined handling of inmate by the staff in line with the United Nations standard minimum rules. The result revealed that the prisons complied in the area of separating of convicts and inmates awaiting trial and erred in many other areas. Clinic/sickbays and medical personnel were provided but no drugs and other medicaments. Meals were served inmates thrice daily but of poor quality and quantity. Uniform was not adequately provided as most inmates appeared in personal clothes always. Beds and blankets were provided to inmates but no pillows and mattresses. Nonetheless, inmates were supplied with water for drinking and for personal hygiene any time they needed it.

With regard to contact with the outside world, the prisons studied complied with the UN minimum standard treatment rule 37 as inmates were allowed to receive visitors. However, the researcher noted the serious restriction on contact with the outside world which has a serious negative implication on reintegration of inmates into the mainstream society. It was only in Kakuri Open Prison were inmates, on request, permitted to go outside the prison premises unescorted but must be back on/before 6.00pm.

Concerning accommodation and sanitation, Kirikiri maximum and Kuje medium prisons had good structures and maintained a fairly clean environment. Kakuri open prison was unkempt with many dilapidated buildings. The prisons were not congested in terms of space as frequently claimed by some reports such as Amnesty International (2008) and Orakwe (2011); however they were seriously congested in terms of rehabilitation facilities as there were very few machines, tools, working materials and technical personnel to serve many interested inmates.

The study revealed that there was provision of more accommodations for inmates which made the initial holding capacities of the prisons to differ from the present and this invalidated the claims of overcrowding by many writers such as Winslow (2001) and Orakwe (2011).

The study explored the nature of inmate sub-culture in the prisons. The findings of the study revealed that inmate subculture existed in the prisons in form of Inmate Government. The study further revealed that the subculture was not operating underground or secretly but was recognized and manipulated by the prison authority to its own advantage.

Furthermore, the inmate government played supportive functions in prison administration aimed at ensuring law and order within the prison, inmates‘ compliance with the orders of the superintendent, inmates respected and obeyed constituted authorities, and erring inmates were brought to justice. The code that governed the conducts of the inmates was operated as ‗Inmate Constitution‘ which was very much influenced by the authority. Certain maxims which were said to be characteristics of inmate subculture in traditional custodial – oriented prison (Sykes, 1960, Sykes and Messinger, 1971) were examined and found not to be practiced by inmates in the

In terms of rehabilitation and reformation of inmates, there were variations in the closed convict prisons (Kuje Medium Prison and Kirikiri Maximum Prison) and open convict prison (Kakuri prison). In Kakuri Open Prison, emphasis was placed on farming alone. Other reformation and rehabilitation programmes such as education and industry were neglected. In Kuje Medium and Kirikiri Maximum Prison attention was focused on prison industry and educational programmes, though the facilities were not adequate. In all, the study revealed that participation of inmates in the programmes was not compulsory as a result many inmates were not participating. The demographic attributes of the inmates revealed that the unemployed and civil servants/forces (before incarceration) were the inmates that mostly rejected reformation and rehabilitation programmes.

5.3 Conclusion

Convict prisons in Nigeria are still embroiled in the old-fashioned closed-system practice in which the inmates have little or no contacts with the outside world and are quarantined as outcasts. However, the study revealed that the calibre of uniformed staff in the prisons had improved due to their level of educational attainment. Majority of the uniformed staff members were found to possess university degrees/equivalents in relevant disciplines. As a result, they were humane-oriented in the manner they handle inmates which promoted good relationship between staff and inmates within the prison settings. Nonetheless, the prisons failed short of adhering to certain important SMRs of the United Nations for handling of inmates and this could be attributed to the inability of the government concerned to provide the much needed funds, facilities and technical instructors to actualize the dreams of the prison institution. Important areas which had to do with the well-being of the inmates were not given priority attention they required. Such areas include proper classification, feeding, clothing, medical care and recreational facilities. Prison protests and riots which had resulted from these factors in the past, especially poor feeding, cannot be underestimated and would have served as an eye-opener to all stakeholders.

Inmate subculture, the study revealed, existed in all the prisons studied as ‗inmate government‘ with its code as ‗inmate constitution‘. It is a structured entity with hierarchy of its leaders and other functionaries who were either elected by the inmate body or appointed by the prison authority, depending on the prison. The study revealed that the inmate government and its leaders were given recognition, as well as responsibilities, by the prison authority and that helped to strengthen cordial relationships between the two parties-the management and the managed.

However, despite the modern emphasis on humane handling of inmates, prison inmates are still seriously deprived in many respects. They are still denied liberty, autonomy, heterosexual relationship, security and possession of goods and services. Though, imprisonment denotes deprivation of certain basic rights such as right to freedom of movement but certainly not right to life. Right to life entails right to be fed well, right to adequate medical care, right to be well clothed and right to a hygienic environment which inmates deprived. The old and traditional approach of open and lock which is only directed at ensuring safe custody does not reflect the professionalism required of staff and does not command the desired respect before the inmates. What should be paramount to prison is to ensure successful rehabilitation of inmates. It is high time the basic human rights of prisoners were restored, bearing in mind that prison is now a ‗home for all‘ (Yongo, 2000) in the country; any person can be there any time.

5.4 Recommendations

With reference to the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. The study revealed that apart from separating convicts and awaiting trial inmates, the prisons erred in one way or the other in implementing other SMRs.The researcher recommends the establishment of Prison Monitoring Team by the Internal Affairs Ministry to monitor and supervise on regular basis inmates‘ classification and accommodation, food, clothing, sanitation, medical and recreational facilities. It is suggested that the team consists of members drawn from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), religious bodies and Nigerian Legal Aids Council.
  2. The study showed that Kakuri Open Prison, the only one of its kind in the country which ought to be a model prison in line with the UNs‘ recommendation, is presently a shadow of its former self. Farming is the only meaningful rehabilitation programme available to inmates. The prison is highly neglected. The researcher recommends that the prison be revived in terms of infrastructure and rehabilitation of facilities. Besides, there is the need to establish more open convict prisons in the country. The abandoned programmes such as pottery and ceramics, crafts and decorative arts, carpentry and cabinet-making should be revitalized. Economically viable crafts and vocational programmes should be introduced as well. In this way the country could meet the UNs‘ recommendation for open prisons and make imprisonment rewarding.
  3. In all the prisons studied, inadequate funding of prisons by the government has made prison administrators handicapped in managing prisons. Essential needs such as food, clothing and drugs were grossly inadequate and after care services are hampered. Regarding insufficient funding, although it is very difficult to increase the budget of prisons overnight as part of measure to make up for the insufficiency of the government budget, establishing a mechanism to generate profit inside correctional institutions is recommended. One possible way to build such a mechanism is activating the business of prison work inside correctional institutions.
  4. The study revealed that many inmates when discharged from prisons are stranded because they have no money and no place to go. The welfare unit that supposed to assist them is starved of funds. The researcher recommends the establishment of half-wayhomes and reviving those established by NGOs in 1980s to accommodate such discharged inmates for a period not more than six months. During this period of time, they will be helped by the unit concerned to solve their problems of accommodation, reunion with immediate families and communities and means of livelihood.
  5. The study showed that discharged inmates face various discriminations and stigmatization in outside world. In view of this, most of them have feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness concerning their release. In view of these problems, it is recommended that all stakeholders – governments at various levels, rehabilitation officers, allied government agencies and non-governmental organizations – should join forces in re-orientating members of public in their attitude towards discharged prisoners. This could include creating positive awareness programmes through radio, television, play, drama, jingles, flyers, hand-bills; conferences, workshops and public announcement; and government should review its anti-ex-convict legislations with the view of dropping those that are counterproductive to the rehabilitation and re-integration programmes.
  6. The study showed that Nigeria still strictly operates the out-dated closed prison system in which prisoners are far removed from the outside world. The researcher recommends that open prisons should be introduced to give room to enough interaction between inmates and people in outside world whom they must surely meet on release.
  7. The study testified that the prisons accommodate convicts, awaiting trial inmates, suspected lunatics and even persons in lieu of their wanted relations/friends. The number of awaiting trial inmates/persons held in lieu of their wanted relations/friends far outnumbers the convicts in each prison. Nigeria‘s constitutional provision maintains that an accused person is regarded innocent until his case is proven beyond reasonable doubt. In view of this provision, awaiting trial inmates have no need for treatment of any nature until convicted. Having them in the same prison with convicts is not only dangerous to them but also inimical to reformation and rehabilitation of convicts. In view of the problem, it is recommended thatprisons are strictly meant for convicts and jails be established for inmates awaiting trial.
  8. The study revealed that rehabilitation programmes exist in the prisons but suffice it that they are out-dated and hence cannot help inmates as expected on release. The researcher recommends that the existing programmes should be replaced with more current and viable programmes such as music, catering, event decoration, installations and painting, amongst others.
  9. The study revealed that majority of the uniformed staff members in the prisons studied were university graduates of humanities, social sciences and management disciplines. They exhibited humane approach in handling inmates under their custody. The researcher recommends to the policy makers concern to formally convert the warders to liberal treatment officials. The call for the move is in consonance with the new trends of things in prison administration and management. The conversion however, should not be a mere formality change in nomenclature, but changes in trainings and orientations of the staff concerned. Therefore the steps to be taken include re-training of the officers concerned to acquaint them with the necessary knowledge, orientation and dexterity required by their new roles as liberal/treatment officers; changing the contents and programmes of the existing prison colleges and training institutions to reflect the new desire and aspiration; re-training the trainers and engaging more of professionals such as psychologists, social workers, psycho-therapists and seasoned administrators in prison work.
  10. The study revealed that inmate government was recognized by the prison authority and given responsibilities in the prisons, not officially but for administrative convenience. The results are positive all the way—creating conducive prison environment, good rapport between staff and inmates and positive inmate solidarity for authority. Based on this cordial and harmonious intergroup existence, the researcher recommends institutionalizing participatory government in the system. This innovative system officially in the prison system will be a right step in the right direction towards achieving a therapeutic environment in prison by giving inmates more responsibilities, especially in initiatives, discretion and personal decisions.

Get Complete Project Material

5,000 5000

The Complete Material Will Be Sent to You in Just 2 Steps

Quick & Simple…

Step One Purchase

Make Payment (Through Transfer) of ₦5,000 to the Account Below

Zenith BankAcc No: 1225513212
Samphina Academy
Current Account

Or CLICK HERE To Pay With Debit Card

CLICK HERE To Purchase Material ($15)

Step Two Purchase

Send the Following Details on WhatsApp ( 08143831497) After Payment

  1. Payment Details

  2. TOPIC: Prison Workers And Their Attitude Towards Inmate In Nigeria

The Complete Material Will Be Sent To You On WhatsApp After Receiving Your Details
T & C Apply

  Contact Our Help Desk

Need a Different Topic? Perform a Quick Search

List of Related Works

Click on Any Topic to Preview the Content

Samphina Academy

Samphina Academy is an Online Educational Resource Center that is aimed at providing students with quality information and materials to aid them in succeeding in their academic pursuit.