Home Governance Jam-packed! …Inmates Sleep In Prison Bathrooms In Buchanan; Several Others Fall Sick

Jam-packed! …Inmates Sleep In Prison Bathrooms In Buchanan; Several Others Fall Sick

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By: H. Richard Fallah

BUCHANAN/GRAND BASSA CO.: Over-crowdedness of prison facilities across Liberia is becoming alarming on a daily basis with latest revelation of prisoners passing the night in bathrooms in the Buchanan Central Prison in Grand Bassa County while others are falling prey to various communicable diseases.

Making the revelation on August 14, 2023, at the formal opening of the August A.D. 2023 term of Court, Buchanan Central Prison Superintendent, Major Tom Butler Karmala, confirmed that some inmates are sleeping in the bathrooms because the prison no longer has any space to host any more inmates.

He averred that the issue at the prison center is not about expansion but rather over crowdedness, a situation, which he alleges, the Justice Ministry continues to ignore even after calling authorities’ attention to the problem.

The prison boss in Grand Bassa called on the administration of the County to visit the prison themselves and see the poor conditions inmates and prison authorities are faced with.

According to him, the prison center in Grand Bassa County lacks medications and whenever inmates are taken to local hospitals, healthcare providers just give prescriptions to buy medicines from privately-run hospital and clinics.

He said it is a financial burden that rests on the shoulders of the local prison authorities who have to use their petite salaries in the name of saving human lives.

Superintendent Karmala noted that the Buchanan Central prison was constructed to accommodate 47-50 inmates, but the prison is now hosting 125 inmates.
He revealed that the number of prisoners is increasing per day and that the situation is totally out of their control.

“Fifteen to sixteen (15-16) inmates are sleeping in one bedroom and some even sleep in the bathrooms, “he revealed.

The Buchanan Prison Superintendent however, praised the Grand Bassa County Local Bar for always identifying with them during times of need.

Speaking on the same situation, the Public Defender of Grand Bassa County, Cllr. Aaron Kartee, described the situation as “grave and frustrating.” He calls on the Liberian authorities to treat the situation as a national emergency that needs urgent attention by Judicial actors.
Cllr. Kartee noted that the release of some pre-trial detainees who have over-stayed is very difficult, because their crimes are mostly capital offenses and whenever he filed the necessary motions, they are denied.

Cllr. Kartee added that if it will be decongested, cases should be heard speedily and those who are held for minor offenses should be released.

Overcrowdings is a long-running problem that has bedeviled prisons not only in outlying areas but the Central Prison in the nation’s capital, Monrovia.

In December 2022, the Monrovia Central Prison, commonly known as “South Beach” was also in the news for being overcrowded with 1,600 plus inmates for a facility constructed to hold only 375.

The congestion is said to have caused several inmates to suffer illnesses, including skin infections, malaria, and among other communicable diseases.

Due to the over-crowdedness of the Prison facility, authority assigned at the prison compound resolved not to accept new inmates then, until decongestion of the facility was carried out.

In an interview with reporters in Monrovia on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, the Assistant Justice Minister for Corrections and Rehabilitation, Eddie Tarawali, confirmed the over crowdedness of the Monrovia Central Prison but at the same time, denied allegations of reported deaths in the prison facilities at the time.

Minister Tarawali admitted that even though there were some inmates who were sick at the facility, but they were responding to treatment at the mini clinic within the prison compound.

When inmates conditions become critical sick, they are transferred to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center or Redemption Hospital for Medical treatment, he added.

According to him, normally people died in society and the prison is no exception even though the prison is overcrowded, but nobody has died as per his records.

He lamented that some of the illnesses that were affecting inmates at the Monrovia Central Prison include rashes, skin infections and while others have Malaria which can be handled by the mini-clinic.

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