PRISON REFORMS AND HIV/AIDS IN SELECTED NIGERIAN PRISONS

Abstract

Author(s): Olusegun Lanre IKUTEYIJO, Melvin Ojo AGUNBIADE

The latest reform in the Nigerian criminal justice system is in line with the global trend to shift from a retributive penal system, where the well being of offenders was a trivial issue, to a rehabilitative system where the welfare of offenders is given a pride of place. The issue of HIV/AIDS in prisons has however not been considered from this perspective. This study was carried out among inmates and officers in selected prisons in Nigeria focusing on institutional policies, level of awareness as well as the various risk practices engaged in by inmates regarding HIV/AIDS. Majority (76.3%) of the respondents heard of HIV/AIDS through the radio prior incarceration, HIV/AIDS testing was not voluntary as the prison rules stipulated that inmates be screened on admission. Indepth interviews with prison officials also revealed that they had a very low knowledge of HIV/AIDS. Some of the prison rules still reflect the retributive penal philosophy despite several reforms in the system. The study concluded that there is a need for the relevant authorities on HIV/AIDS control to begin to shift their focus to the prisons, and certain rules, which still reflect the old penal system be relaxed to demonstrate the global reform in penology.

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