Community service can decongest our prisons

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EDITOR — Every time  I read news on our prisons, it is sad that the media  always report on the congestion in detention centres, with prisons filled beyond capacity.

This situation over-stretches our prison facilities.

It also draws attention to the various reforms that have been made in the criminal justice system, which include, among others, the introduction of community service, a non-custodial sentence to mitigate such scenarios and problems that accrue due to congestion.

Community service is a non-custodial sentence issued by a competent court to offenders to perform unpaid work in the community rather than being imprisoned.

This form of sentence is being implemented by various courts throughout the country; it is a viable sentencing option and can go a long way in contributing to decongesting our prisons.

With community service, offenders are rehabilitated within their communities; reconciliation is facilitated between the offenders, victims and community; and government expenditure on prisoners is reduced.

Besides, the offenders perform work beneficial to the community while institutions where they are placed also save the money they would have otherwise spent on hiring labour for the work performed by offenders.

I therefore, appeal to the various stakeholders to promote and utilise non-custodial sentences such as community service to reduce the ever increasing number of prisoners countrywide.

Worried,

Harare

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