Today, we had the privalege of visiting Uganda's maximum security prison and for many of us this was our first time experiencing what jail life looks like. As we walked into the courtyard filled with hundreds of male inmates, all eyes and attention were directed on us. Many of us were surprised that the only barrier between us and the inmates were just a few guards here and there. This prison has the capacity to hold 20,000 inmates and includes as many as 500 men who are currently on death row. The inmates on death row were all dressed in a white uniform, while the others were dressed in head-to-toe yellow. Even though the inmates in yellow aren't on death row, some maybe facing up to 310 years in jail!
Luzira Maximum Security prison has recently been the subject of a welfare project by the African prisons project. About 3 or so years ago, the prison joined hands with Makerere University Business School and now provides education to approximately 50 inmates. As well as providing university level education, the prison also offers primary, secondary and vocational schooling,in which 1/3 of the inmates are engaged in some sort of education. While 60% of the teachers are hired women, some inmates teach along side them because they may have bachelors degrees already. The biggest surprise of the day was when we learned that those on death row tend to be their best students. Many who are on death row and are performing well in school can get change their sentence from death row to a certain number of years. What are your thoughts on changing sentence time, especially changing a death row sentence? Before these programs existed, riots occurred about once every three months and now they also never have any. The aim of these programs is to give inmates a second chance at life once out of prison and their moto is that age is not a problem, as long as you want to get something out of it. What are your thoughts on prisoners receiving basic education as well as degrees while in jail? Is educating prisoners sustainable?
Also, since the judicial system in Uganda doesn't provide access to a fast and speedy trial, many prisoners maybe awaiting their trial in jail for 3 to 5 years and are found to be innocent.What are your thoughts on this process? Is it economically sustainable to look after these people for 3 to 5 years only to find them innocent?