Lagos State Government has condemned the use of prisons as rehabilitation centre for convicted children in the country, maintained that sending children to prison affects their mental health due to the conditions they are often subjected to.
Director, Office of the Public Defender, Lagos State, Mrs. Olayinka Adeyemi, faulted the act during a stakeholder’s summit on Juvenile Justice Administration in Nigeria, organised by Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errant (CURE-NIGERIA) in conjunction with the National Human Rights Commission, South-West Zone and the Office of the Public Defender, Lagos State.
Adeyemi, speaking on Reforming Juvenile Justice Administration in Nigeria, Ending the Detention of Juveniles with Adults, at the Office of the Public Defender Headquarter, Surulere, Lagos, expressed worries that children are kept with adult in prisons, saying “children should be kept in correctional homes where they can be reformed and rehabilitated so that they can become useful to themselves and the society as a whole.”
Adeyemi said the process of rehabilitation must also secure the rights of the child in conflict with the law stating that the rights must include and not be limited to the following: humane treatment with no corporal punishment, separation from adult offenders, if detained, access to free legal representation, bail and release on recognizance, privacy, diversion, if qualified, probation, if qualified, proportionate judgment, suspension of sentence, if qualified, among others.
She, however, stated that rehabilitation is crucial to re-integrate children in conflict with the law back into the society as well as prevent recidivism.
To assist children in conflict, Adeyemi said the office has offered legal representation to 72 children in conflict with the law.
A breakdown of the statistics showed that 20 of the boys have been moved to boy’s correctional centre, 22 from Ikoyi Prisons, five from Kirikiri Medium and 10 from the Federal Borstal Home, Adigbe.