Prisons go commercial farming for self-sufficiency

WE are already in the year twenty- nineteen very closely inching to our high profile statement of Vision Twenty Twenty-five.

It looks we are in the right track with the kind of leadership of President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli; I am convinced that Tanzania would not be the same, come twenty twenty-five.

I could see in the outgoing year, every sector was very much committed to accomplishing what was required to be done in the programmed timeframe!

Unfortunately for those who could not deliver as expected were urged to improve and make sure that their modus operand is within that spirit of “hapa kazi tu.”

It was very saddening to hear from the President, Dr Magufuli querying where has that 10 billion shillings gone to; the money he had offered to Prisons supposed to have constructed a complex of Prisons Quarters at the Ukonga Prison.

The offer was made at that very traumatic meeting he had with prison officers at the Ukonga Prison’s Officers’ Mess in December 2016. In that spirit of accountability, the new Commissioner-General of Prisons, Phaustine Kasike promised to make a thorough investigation into the whereabouts of this money and any other bottleneck that had impeded the speedy implementation of that project.

Kasike did not end up there but has lately pronounced himself on his year’s strategy of implementing the President’s advice on the possibility of making Prisons self-sufficiency in food production and hence production centres have already been identified.

The necessary farming equipments are in the process of being purchased to turn around Prison’s agricultural sector into fully blown commercial farming. Kasike says, “Success is a matter of death or life.”

However, there are those doubting thomases that seem to question the ability of Prisons Service to feed itself while its labour force is mistakenly assumed to be excessive; in reality most of the inmates are not supposed to work.

Those include the remand prisoners, sick prisoners, old prisoners, long sentenced prisoners considered to be of high risk offenders.

Others even go far by suggesting that the Presidential amnesties coincide with the farming seasons in Aprils and Decembers.

That is the old thinking of managing prisons service not knowing that technology is with us.

All this can simply be managed through what is known as the “Offender Risk Management Correctional Strategy” that can easily identify the right kind of labour force required.

The government should be advised to invest simultaneously on the agricultural/Industrial sectors together with the Offender Risk Management tools/ capacity building.

Commercially managed prison farms and industries would make a great difference in the usage of prison labour in the contribution to the country’s economy like what is been done in countries such as USA, Canada or China.

Commercialisation of the prison labour should be a catalyst to the change of criminal behaviour of offenders.

Furthermore prison commercial activities should not divorce the core function of prison’s rehabilitation and social reintegration of offenders.

Traditionally people used to believe in hard work as a significant contributor to an inmate’s rehabilitation, allowing him or her to develop the habits necessary to successfully return to society.

This again is old thinking because effective rehabilitation requires the identification of the criminogenic needs of offenders that predispose offenders to commit crimes.

Once identified the therapy could be administered with an element of psychosocial approach embedded with appropriate interventions programmes like agricultural undertaking and vocational activities.

These are the suited operations needed to be implemented for the sake of attaining the twin objectives of self-sufficiency and rehabilitation of offenders.

Commercialisation of the prison labour should have features with the key rehabilitation programmes that contribute to safe communities.

The release of a prisoner should be that would enable prisoners’ employability having acquired employability skills training while incarcerated.

Countries like Canada have a correctional financial Institution known as CORCAN which is responsible for managing prisons agricultural and industrial activities.

CORCAN is a Special Operating Agency within Corrections Service of Canada which allows it to operate in a business-like manner while respecting government policies and regulations.

Over the years, the core businesses have been augmented by the addition of new businesses and product lines and CORCAN continues to employ offenders in construction activities primarily for Correctional Service of Canada, the production of furniture for internal use and resale, the manu-facturing of inmate clothing and bedding and in other institutional activities just as the prison industries programme was doing over the years.

All generated revenues are used to fund the programme, buying the material and equipment that offenders need to work and learn with and paying for the training they receive.

Anyone can purchase CORCAN’s products and services, though they are sold primarily to federal government departments, with lesser volumes sold to other levels of government, educational and health care facilities and nonprofit organisations.

CORCAN’s work supports the social policy of the Government of Canada to safely reintegrate offenders into society in a way that promotes their success as Canadian citizens.

Most of our people are not aware of the existence of the Prison Corporation Sole an economic wing of the Tanzania Prison Service which operates as a semi-parastatal organ in spearheading the industrial and farming projects within the Service.

It was proclaimed as an Act No 23 of 1974 as Prison Corporation Sole that mandated the President to establish corporation sole to facilitate the more efficient carrying on of commercial or industrial enterprises.

Has our Prisons Corporation Sole done enough to address the economic woos that the Prisons Service is embroiled in?

The Prisons Corporation Sole should spearhead the attainment of the President’s call on Prisons Self-sufficiency in food production.

When the President made that call, he did not mean for Prisons to engage on peasantry farming involving individual offenders for punitive objectives rather was for production through mechanised farming.

Hopefully, the Prisons Corporation Sole will take up this new role for mass production of farm and industrial products.

THE Covid-19 pandemic is creating significant eco- ...

Author: By Kiangiosekazi wa Nyoka

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