THE new Acting Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr. Lucas Mkondya last week issued a seven-day ultimatum to all people who had already served jail terms over various crimes to report to Zonal Criminal Officer.
The deadline falls on next week, hopefully a police operation would be mounted to round up those not heeding to the call.
It is almost our culture now not to adhere to the deadlines on every issue that we are required voluntarily to act; now comes this police ultimatum which has tricky connotations likely to implicate the criminals; are they going to willingly honour the call? Should they abide by the now popular phraseology of “obeying without force?”
At the back of my mind I doubt if the hardcore ex-prisoner would relish that call! It is said, you cannot stamp out crime in its totality, but it can be controlled through smart professional approach.
This is what I think the Police Force is trying to do albeit it is not a new innovation which was once there during the colonial time but unfortunately was seen to be undeserving and was ignored.
What we are seeing now is the awakening of our people to the elevated heights of their performances and perhaps revisiting the old methods which worked very well. Thanks to the advent of the Fifth Phase government of ‘hapa ni kazi tuu’ which seems to have invoked a sense of seriousness.
Once upon a time there was a special way of dealing with the hardcore criminals not to slip away from the police surveillance once they are released from Prison.
Following the investigations, prosecutions and trials of their cases, if the police was convinced on the risks the offender had, working in collaboration with the investigation would recommend to the trial magistrate to put such an offender on Police Supervise status.
That meant after the expiry of his sentence he would be under the police supervision for a given period and that the police would be in a better position of knowing this hardcore prisoners’ activities as regards to his criminal behaviour.
Befittingly, this hardcore prisoner on admission to prison would be treated according to that status of being a police supervisee and his behaviour would be recorded whilst serving his sentence. And a good time before his release from prison, the police would be alerted to get ready for impending release of this prisoner!
I am wondering with this new ultimatum issued last week, is the police trying to re-invert the wheel or just improving the existing policy on police supervisee theory. This goes together with his finger prints and copy of the judgement from the court.
Apart from this police supervisee concept, there was another law which tamed the habitual offenders from committing more crimes. There was a law, Act No 8 of 1969, known as Resettlement Act that provided the resettlement of certain offenders and habitual offenders and made provisions for their treatment.
This Act by then allowed the Minister of Home Affairs to designate an area to be resettlement centre and by then the Minister of Home was Alhaj Omari Muhaji. He created three centres namely Wami at Morogoro, Songwe in Mbeya and Kitengule at Kagera. These were not prisons but were situated near to prisons where released hardcore prisoners were kept at these centres as a matter of surveillance and naturally starting a new life after imprisonment. These settlement centres could easily be converted into half way houses as a gradual controlled release.
All along, opinion and decision makers got it wrong by not seeing prison as a necessary component of controlling crime apart from seeing it as a custodian of prisoners.
The cheap popular theory as accepted by our politicians that prisons is responsible for rehabilitation of offenders but that kind of thinking does not go beyond that. Does the government create an enabling environment for these rehabilitated offenders to be self-supporting not to be readmitted to prisons? It is a fact that the public interests is to see the successful reintegration of offenders as early as possible.
That is the key aspect of corrections’ contribution to crime prevention. A graduated release programme on parole and provision of the necessary support and control should be the perfect way of surveillance of offenders.
Unfortunately this is not the case and released prisoners are not accepted in the community and face stigmatisation from the public, they feel safe to go back where they are accepted, that is in prisons!
This argument was posed by the first indigenous Commissioner of Prisons Obadiah Kinyomi Rugimbana in 1965 when he hosted the then Minister of Home Affairs Lawi Sijaona at Wami Prison.
Mr Rugimbana confirmed that the Prisons Service was trying hard to provide living skills to prisoners as a way of rehabilitating them to ensure their reintegration with the community. On release, they should be monitored and supported for their smooth social reintegration.
He further proposed that the government could allocate funds to the District Commissioners for assisting collective agricultural projects to these released offenders.
This could have been a very good aftercare services to prisoners and a way of controlling recidivism and the rising of crime rate as well as job creation venture.
These are known as smart ways of managing and controlling crime which were not heeded and now fifty years down the lane we are experiencing the long term results.
As a matter of interest, the Fourth Term Phase government, more than 60,000 prisoners received Presidential Reprieve but there is no track if these prisoners were engaged in useful work if not returned to prisons as recidivists!
The government should revisit the Correctional Policy of this country together with its Parole and other relevant penal issues with the relevant technological approaches to minimise re-offending and overcrowding of prisoners.