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African Prisons Project



African Prisons Project
Grant

African Prisons Project - Working to make prisons in Africa a place of positive transformation



Summary

For over a decade, AFRICAN PRISONS PROJECT has worked to bring dignity and hope to men, women and children in prison in Africa through healthcare, education, access to justice and community reintegration. APP’s vision is that time spent in prison is a time of positive transformation where inmates gain the skills, motivation and support needed to live with dignity and contribute positively to society on release. APP is working to establish a new, sustainable model for imprisonment in Africa, based on rehabilitation and a respect for human rights. To achieve this, its approach is based on a partnership with prison services, the police, the judiciary, lawyers, NGOs, businesses, universities, healthcare providers and prison staff and prisoners themselves. 

Social Impact

Prison conditions in Africa are characterised by severe overcrowding, ill-treatment, rudimentary facilities and food and medical supply shortages. Uganda has 224 prisons with a maximum capacity of 13,670 but an actual population of 38,477 inmates. The prisons are at 258% of their intended capacity. Throughout Africa, prisoners lack access to adequate healthcare. The severe overcrowding prevalent in most African prisons means that communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, scabies and HIV are rife. The unsanitary conditions coupled with a real lack of even basic healthcare means that treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and TB are often fatal. The prison services are very limited in their resources, and as a result the Ugandan Prisons Service (UPS) spends less than $2 per inmate per year on healthcare. The rate of HIV infection in prisons stands at 20%, two and a half times that of the national population.

Over 56% of people in prison are on remand, awaiting trial for an average of 15 months but sometimes for over a decade, many times for minor crimes, such as stealing vegetables. Only 20 per cent of defendants will be represented by a lawyer in court and 80 per cent of those will meet their lawyer only once, on the day of their trial.

Prisons are also places of violence. A Human Rights Watch report in 2011 stated that 41 per cent of the prisoners interviewed said that they had been beaten and 87 per cent of prisoners at farm prisons had experienced a beating. Prisoners are largely unaware of their rights and have little redress.

The African Prisons Project believes that the prisons can, and should, be a place of positive transformation. Many people enter prison unable to read or write with little or no skills that will set them on a better path when they leave. The majority of people in prison are there because they are poor, not because they are evil. If nothing is done to change this, the likelihood of reoffending is high.

As a result APP works in three main areas in order to aid positive change in prison services as a whole, and to transform the lives of individuals.

Healthcare – By building clinics or refurbishing unusable pre-existing clinics, and providing training to prisoners and prison staff to aid in the caring of sick inmates, prison becomes a safer and healthier environment. APP also works to improve sanitation facilities, implement sports tournaments, and put in place healthcare education. These projects allow inmates and prison staff to live and work in dignified environments and create a positive and safer base for our other projects.

Education – APP has implemented a Functional Adult Literacy Programme across the prisons in which it serves. This programme aims to give illiterate prisoners a second chance at education and equip them with literacy and numeracy skills in a bid to prepare them for life after prison. APP has embedded the entrepreneurship programmes into the FAL programme. The APP FAL curriculum includes a life skills component which aims to provide prisoners with knowledge and skills on income generation, savings, setting up and managing small scale businesses or farms among other businesses. The vocational training component will focus on providing practical skills in small scale farming using modern agricultural methods. By additionally building and stocking libraries, inmates can build on their learning, and access knowledge and information that will empower them in the future.

Access to Justice – Through APP’s partnership with the University of London, a number of prisoners and prisons staff have been given the opportunity to study for diplomas and degrees in Common Law via distance learning. Since this project has begun, three of our students have played a part in over-turning their own un-just death sentences, and one inmate has since been cleared of all charges and released from prison. With the knowledge gained from these studies, prison staff have been equipped with the information to support and advise inmates on their upcoming trials, and the student prisoners have been able to not only advocate for themselves but for their fellow inmates, with two inmate run legal advise centres having been set up since this project began.

 

Your help

Grants to the AFRICAN PRISONS PROJECT will be used to support prisoners and prisons staff through access to healthcare, education and justice, with the long term goal of creating positive change to prison services and creating an environment of prisoner reform. 


 

 
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African Prisons Project

Impact sectors:

Building communities
Capacity building
Education
Environment
Healthcare
Water & sanitation
 
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