The phones will be distributed to each of the 22 correctional facilities with the most crowded and larger ones such as Pademba Road and Mafanta getting at least three (3). Inmates will be allowed to make up to three calls every week for a total of 15minutes. This timing is flexible for inmates accessing medical, legal services and for those with family emergencies.
While phone calls between inmates and relatives might be a regularly available facility, they have not been part of SLCS’ provisions to inmates given that the institution has meagre resources available. Moreover, these resources need to be channeled to the most basic priority needs such health, food, water and sanitation which are not even enough for the high number of people in incarceration.
Apart from inmates using the phones, Correctional Staff and Officers will be able to communicate among themselves about work related issues as the phones have been configured with a ‘user-group’ intercom function.
“The phones come in timely in order to maintain stability and avert the tensions that have built up due to the suspension of visitation. The inmates are worried about their children, their wives, parents and all those they love. Since they are locked away from the outside world, they picnic not knowing exactly what is happening and the pandemic has bred so much fears in them. Worry and fear among inmates can culminate into something we would not want. It is therefore important that they stay in touch with their relatives and know what is happening in their communities and the rest of the world. This is a thoughtful act from UNDP for which we are grateful” said Joseph Lamboi, Director General of Sierra Leone Correctional Services who pledged to ensure continuous sustainability of the phones after COVID-19 and UNDP’s support.