Founder and Director-General, PREMI
From the birth of modern civilization in the third millennium BC, almost every major ancient civilization used the concept of prisons as a means to detain and remove the personal freedoms of incarcerated people. In those early periods of history, prisons were often used as a temporary stopgap before sentencing to death or life of slavery, but, with time and civilization, prisons started morphing into correctional facilities that started implementing the concept of rehabilitation and reform. (www.prisonhistory.net). By definition, prison reform refers to an attempt to improve the conditions inside prisons and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a penal system, thus changing the description of prisons to correctional facilities to improve the life of inmates and provide necessary tools for gainful life after incarceration.
The incarcerated offenders have children, spouses, family, and friends who desire to continue a relationship with them while they are in or out of prison. Incarceration makes it exceptionally difficult for individuals to maintain healthy relationships with those who will be their support system when they return home.
In Nigeria, the rate of incarceration is growing at an alarming rate. Countries around the world have witnessed a similar sporadic increase. By ensuring that individuals have the opportunity to use their time in prisons in constructive manners and allowing them to maintain positive relationships with their support network, we can increase the likelihood they become productive members of their communities upon re-entry (www.charleskochinstitute.org).
The international community is keenly interested in the way and manner a country treats its prisoners. For instance, Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. “The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 5, states that “every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status” (Coyle, 2003). This is the basic reason for the formation of PREMI.
Established in 1982 as a non-governmental organization, Prison Rehabilitation Mission International Inc. (PREMI) has been consistent in advocating the overhaul of the prison system and the reform of the penal system in Nigeria and Africa. Its goal is to assist in the realization of the national objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy. The most important of these is the replacement of scolding with schooling, and punishment with prospect. This, PREMI believes, will reduce re-incarceration and assist in the reintegration process of released offenders. The Four Rs of this organization are Reformation, Reintegration, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement.