Joseph Emelue, Controller of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS), Enugu State Command, has urged Nigerians to stop stigmatising and rejecting reformed and released inmates.
Emelue made the plea at the end of a 12 kilometres ‘Walk Against Stigmatisation of Released Inmates’ which held in Enugu metropolis on Saturday.
The walk, which was tagged the `Yellow Ribbon Project’, was used to distribute fliers and handbills to Nigerians on some societal negative attitudes against repentant, reformed and released inmates.
Some of the inscription on the handbills included; “Give Inmates a Chance of a Second Life’’; “Ex-inmates have Valuable Contribution to the Society’’ and “Stop Stigmatising Ex-offenders and Help Give Them Better Lives’’.
Emelue noted that released inmates had undergone corrections and were now reformed, adding that most of them learnt crafts, handiwork and some have completed their education to Masters Degree level.
“Today’s walk is significant in the job of Nigerian Correctional Service; as we have gone out to sensitise the general public on the need to receive corrected, reformed and released inmates whole-heartedly.
“We in the correctional service, believe that no one is a permanent offender and humans can be reformed and corrected to get better and be useful to the society,’’ he said.
The controller, however, said that in contemporary Nigeria; the released inmates have a challenge of the “second prison’’, which is where the individuals in the society stigmatise and reject them after release.
“So, our message is that the society should receive them knowing that they had undergone total correction and rehabilitation.
“They are highly useful to everyone – family, neighbourhood, community and society,’’ he said.
Ven. Jonathan Agbo, South-East Coordinator of Prisons’ Fellowship of Nigeria, called for an open door and love towards released inmates notwithstanding their previous offence.
Agbo, who is the Archdeacon of Ogui Anglican Archdeaconry in Enugu, noted that it was regrettable that families and communities even the Church and government discriminate against them through some pronouncements and attitudes.
“Ex-inmates need love and understanding from everybody and it is good we help them achieve their potentials,’’ he said.
The other organisations that partnered the NCoS in the walk and sensitisation included; Prisons Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) and Baywood Foundation.