Food shortage a worry in jail

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By GYNNIE KERO
WARDERS at Wewak’s Boram Prison in East Sepik had to release 35 prisoners on Sunday to go and look for food to feed themselves because of the shortage at the facility.
Prison administration manager Inspector Joe Imini told The National that they had been facing food shortage for almost two months at the facility which holds 290 inmates, mostly detainees awaiting court cases.
He blamed the problem on the delay in the release of funds each month from the Correctional Services headquarters in Port Moresby to pay for food rations.
Of the 35 convicted prisoners sent out on Sunday, only one, a juvenile, is yet to return.
Imini said the officers and their families were also helping provide food for the prisoners but it was too much for them.
“If we are given rations (from headquarters) at the beginning of each month, we won’t be facing the (food shortage) problem,” he said.
“On average, we get K56,000 to K60,000 per month. But for April, we got K24,000.
“Given the size of our population, that is not enough. We are consuming monthly. Payment is not forthcoming. We are living on credit.”
On why they had to release the convicted prisoners on Sunday, Imini said it was a desperate situation.
“Pressure is mounting. They were hungry. So we chose 35 of them to go out. All but one came back.”
Correctional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo could not be reached for comment yesterday. But his executive officer Inspector Richard Mandui told The National a cheque for the rations at Boram had already been sent.
“The warrant came in late (last Friday). Cheque for rations has been raised. Situation is under control,” Mandui said.
Imini confirmed that they had received this week the cheque for K24,000. But it was for the month of April.
He said after paying for the supplies obtained on credit from shops in Wewak, they were now left with only K4000. They are yet to get the cheque for May.

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