Hundreds of inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison in Bong County, Central Liberia, have alarmed over what they called serious life-threatening conditions that they are going through behind bars.
According to the inmates, the prison is overcrowded to the extent that they are almost sleeping on each other because there is no sufficient area for standing or sitting in the various cells. Some of those who spoke with the INSIGHT claimed to be pre-trial detainees while others are convicts.
“We are facing major problems here; we urinate and do everything here. We are surviving only by the grace of God, I don’t think any human being can survive here,” John Kesselle, a 30-year old inmate who has been locked up for four years on a robbery charge told the INSIGHT’s Bong County Correspondent.
“Because of the congestion, people here sleep pressed body-to-body and this body contact leads to many encountering lots of sicknesses,” Kesselle added.
According to him, the inmates are, at the moment fearing encountering dangerous and communicable diseases.
“Some of our friends here have some unknown sicknesses which others might encounter as a result of the body contacts”, he told the INSIGHT.
Some of the inmates, speaking exclusively with the INSIGHT Correspondent while behind bars stated that the over-crowdedness of the Gbarnga Central Prison is further humiliating them.
“Although we do not expect the prison facility to be comfortable like our homes, but the facility should be improved for our health wellbeing,” another prisoner added.
According to the inmates, prison centers are also for rehabilitation of detainees for productive life in a society after one shall have served his/her prison term.
Also speaking to the INSIGHT on behalf of his fellow detainees, John Bokoh, alias, “Double Trouble” stressed the need for the central government to transfer them to the Grand Gedeh prison “instead of being kept in a very tiny cell here.”
Boko who is serving twenty-year imprisonment for rape stated that the over crowdedness of the Gbarnga Prison center is a serious risk to their precious human lives.
He wants the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to quickly intervene by addressing the ‘appalling situation,’ at the Gbarnga Central prison
At the same time, one of the Rehabilitation Officers who begged for anonymity for administrative reasons described the Gbarnga Central Prison in Bong County as the “worst congested prison” in Liberia.
The Rehabilitation Officer told the INSIGHT that the deplorable and appalling situation at said prison is “making our jobs harder.”
Pointing at one of the cells, he disclosed that “This cell is meant for only three persons, but they are currently nine in there as a result of the huge number of inmates in this facility.”
The Head of the Gbarnga Central Prison, Janeh Mulbah, who rarely speaks to the media, when contacted for comment, confirmed the over crowdedness of the Gbarnga Prison. “The story is the same everywhere in Liberian jails,”
She attributed the over-crowdedness of the jail to the delay of complainants to follow up with their cases for adjudication.
When the INSIGHT Correspondent contacted Bong County Attorney, Jonathan N. Flomo, for his reaction on the concerns raised by the inmates, Atty. Flomo said he has concluded talks with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to ensure the transfer of long-term convicts from the Gbarnga Central Prison to the Grand Gedeh Prison.
According to him, the Justice Ministry is only awaiting the dry season at which time the motor road to Grand Gedeh County in the Southeastern region of Liberia will be better for travel.
Atty. Flomo stated to the INSIGHT that the Gbarnga Central Prison is meant for only one hundred and thirty prisoners (130) but currently it plays host to about two hundred (200) prisoners.
The Bong County Attorney cautioned the inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison to remain calmed as everything is being done by the MoJ to address the problem of crowdedness at the Prison.
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