Liberia: Inmates in Bassa Sleeping in Bathrooms

The overcrowding of prison centers across the country remains a national emergency as prisoners in most of Liberia’s prison centers are said to be going through tough times at various prison centers.

Latest reports emanating from the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County say most of the inmates at the Buchanan Central Prison are sleeping in bathrooms due to the overcrowding of the prison.

This latest development was confirmed by the Prison Superintendent of Buchanan Central Prison, Major Tom Butler Karmala. He disclosed that some inmates are sleeping in the bathrooms because the prison no longer has any space to host inmates.

Major Karmala confirmed the situation at the Buchanan Prison Center at the formal opening ceremony of the August A.D. 2023 Term of Court.

Karmala said the problem of the prison is not expansion but rather over crowdedness something he said the prison authorities in Buchanan have always complained about to the Justice Ministry but the Ministry continues to play deaf ears to them leaving the heavy weight on the Prison authorities in Grand Bassa County.

According to Superintendent Karmala, the Buchanan Central Prison was constructed for 47 to 50 inmates but the prison is now hosting over 125 and it is increasing per day something he said is totally out of their control.

Mayor Karmala added, “15 to 16 inmates are sleeping in one bedroom and some are sleeping in other bathrooms.” The Buchanan Central Prison Superintendent called on the County Administration to visit the prison center and acquaint themselves with the conditions inmates and the prison authorities are faced with.

Expressing his disappointment, Mayor Karmala said the prison center lacks essential medications and whenever inmates are taken to the hospital, healthcare providers will only give prescriptions which they (prison authorities) will take the initiative to purchase the drugs with their already little salary in the name of saving lives as there is no allotment in the National Budget for the prison center.

The Prison Superintendent praised the Grand Bassa County Local Bar for always identifying with them at the prison whenever they were in need.

Also speaking on the same overcrowding of the prison center, the Public Defender of Grand Bassa County, Cllr. Aaron Kartee said the issue of pre-trial detention is a national emergency and it needs urgent attention by justice actors.

He revealed that the release of some pre-detainees who have overstayed is very difficult because their crimes are capital offenses and whenever he files the necessary motions, it can be denied by the court.

At the same time, Mayor karmala is calling on Judge Joe S. Barkon to use his discretion in ensuring that pre-trial detainees are released to create space for other inmates. Public Defender Kartee added that if the prison center is to be decongested, cases should be heard speedily and those who are held for minor offenses be released.

Meanwhile, the Grand Bassa County local Bar of the Liberian National Bar Association some months ago gave a solar power to the Buchanan Central Prison and on Monday, August 14, 2023 during the formal opening of court, they also gave two new sewing machines to the prison center.

The local Bar according to the Prison Superintendent, is always doing extremely well for the prison by providing them with needed items whenever they are called upon.


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