Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner-General, Frederick Chilukutu, has appealed to the Judiciary to consider imposition of non- custodial sentences and timely delivery of judgements.
This would assist decongest prisons which population statistics are at more than 25,000 against the holding capacity of 10,650.
The Commissioner-General said 20 percent of the population comprised of inmates who among them had pending judgements.
Chilukutu was speaking during the official opening of the 2024 High Court criminal session under the theme: Better delivery of justice through improved coordination of correctional and judicial Services.
He said the prerogative of mercy exercised by the President had tremendously helped in decongesting the prisons.
Chilukutu added that President Hakainde Hichilema last year pardoned over 7,000 prisoners.
“From the 25,372 inmates, 5,101 were remandees among them those pending judgements, those with bailable offences, prohibited immigrants, those on continued trial and others under criminal investigations by arresting agencies.
“This population translates to 20 percent of the total prison population which is critically contributing to overcrowding in the prison and correctional centres,” he said.
Chilukutu also mentioned that ZCS had faced challenges in transferring foreign nationals convicted of various offences to serve the remainder sentences in their respective countries because of failure by the Courts to avail the service with case records.
He said the Service failed to transfer 18 Malawian convicts last December due to non availability of case records.
He said between 2022-2023, the service facilitated the transfer of 57 foreign convicts to serve the reminder of sentences in their various countries.
Chilukutu said imposition of non-custodial sentences for appropriate cases, granting of bail for bailable offences with flexible conditions and camp courts are key factors to reducing overcrowding in prisons.
High Court Judge in-charge, Charles Zulu, said the Judiciary was confident the ZCS would be of continued help in the delivery of justice.
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