By BRADLEY MARIORI
MOST of the escapees from the Buimo Correctional Institute in Lae are yet to be proven guilty in court but the state is taking away some of their lives, Correctional Services Minister Chris Nangoi says.
“Psychologically, an innocent remandee goes mental when he is surrounded by barbed-wire fences, knowing that he is innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
Nangoi said remandees were suffering in silence, as they awaited their trial date for months and months.
“The usual answer they get in court every time is ‘your files are not ready’.
“For the record, most prison breakouts are committed by remand detainees who are aggrieved by the fact that their cases are not processed timely by the relevant law and justice sector agencies for mention and trial.
“I am now proposing major changes to how justice should be administered.
“No remandee will be accepted into any prison without a complete court file.
“That excludes remandees for wilful murder, rape and attempted murder. Remandees will be returned to police cells until files are completed.”
Nangoi said district and committal courts should reject incomplete court files by police.
He added that the police practice of “holding charges” should stop.
“Warrant of remand must not be released to police until a completed court file is presented,” Nangoi said.
“Remandees for summary offences should be processed and closed within a month and remandees for criminal code cases should be processed and closed within three months.”
Nangoi said all major prisons (level 4) should have a court house and permanent magistrates. He said judges could do court circuits.
Nangoi said police should be made applicable to all summary offence cases as minor offenders took up space in the prisons and cost the state to feed and manage them.
“The Correctional Service has an excellent strategic and action plan to serve the prison population, its staff and administration,” Nangoi said.
“However, the recent financial and economic difficulties in the country have cut down the funding of key intervention projects in prisons.
“I’m calling on police to improve investigations and successfully convict all cases.”
By BRADLEY MARIORI