Stricter rules, new rehabilitation programmes and a future increase in staff numbers at the prison were some of the positives presented to stakeholders on Monday at the Ministry of Health conference room.
The Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services stakeholder’s consultation workshop is part of their first Corporate Plan covering 2016-2018.
The objective is primarily to obtain views and insights on the S.P.C.S.’s direction for the next three years.
In compliance with government principles, the S.P.C.S. wants to ensure that the public and stakeholders are informed of the Ministry’s aspirations as a new organisation, for the next three years.
According to the Acting Commissioner of S.P.C.S. Sagaga Galu Frost, it is their belief that the safety and security of Samoa concerns everyone and therefore the consultation should engage and solicit support from stakeholders and the wider community in ensuring the drive for a safe and secure Samoa.
As for the issues that will be discussed, Sagaga said one of them is to ensure that the prison and prisoners are managed in accordance with the Samoan culture and community values.
“And we must ensure that full regard is in line with recognised international standards and obligations relating to the treatment of prisoners.”
Also being discussed is the relocation of the prison from Tafaigata to Tanugamalala.
“At the moment everything is in place and the government has already prioritised plans to relocate of the prison,” he said.
“Preparations are underway at the new prison including a plantation which is already in place and a vegetable garden.
“We are looking at moving to Tanugamalala next year in June, Lord willing, and if all goes to plan.”
Sagaga went on to say that there will be programmes for inmates to ensure they will not reoffend once they come out of prison.
“We have programmes like literacy because that is one of the main problems inside. There are many of them who do not know how to read so we have these programmes to teach them,” he said.
“We also have numeracy programmes as well as trades to prepare them for when they are released from prison to start afresh and to ensure that they have learned positive skills while being imprisoned.”
As for the issue of prisoners escaping from prison, Saga said the Ministry has already looked into this.
“You will note we haven’t had any reports of prisoners escaping lately because we have been very strict,” he said.
“We have worked together with our prison guards to ensure they are well prepared if that problem comes up again and also the prisoners know that there will be heavy consequences if they do escape.
“Not only that, but there will be a price to pay if they do escape with their weekend time being forfeited and their families will also be affected. So the prisoners now know that we are very strict on them and we will continue with that for the safety of our country.”
Away from the consultations, Sagaga was asked about the number of prisoners being paroled this year.
“There are about 80 prisoners who will go on parole next month,” he said.
“These are the ones that have been behaving well and are eligible for parole so next month we will be conducting that.”
In total, there are approximately 60 prison guards and 600 prisoners who are incarcerated; a 1-10 ratio.
“This is definitely an issue but we are recruiting 10 new prison guards next week to undergo training,” he said.
“We are still taking one step at a time in terms of prison guards, but once we move to Tanugamalala, we will have more guards because it will be a big prison and it will require more staff. “Hopefully for the next three years, the Ministry, with our plans in place, will improve.”