The Acting Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Service has highlighted pressing challenges within the correctional system with a particular emphasis on the need for rehabilitation infrastructure.
Salote Panapasa states that despite a paradigm shift in 2006 renaming the institution to Fiji Corrections Service, the physical implementation of changes has lagged behind, especially in terms of rehabilitation facilities.
She raised concerns about the inadequate infrastructure and design of prison buildings and the lack of conducive rooms for rehabilitation programs, counselling and psychological services.
“Currently we are using available spaces as mass halls, our visiting rooms, and chapel, we even erected temporary tents to conduct our rehabilitation programs.”
FCS currently looks after 878 inmates in the Central Eastern Division, the Southern Division holds 646, the Western Division has 531 and the Northern Division detains 221 inmates, bringing the total inmate population to 2276.
This surpasses the approved capacity of 2200, creating a significant overcapacity of 76 individuals.
The Commissioner highlighted the challenges posed by the overpopulation stressing the strain on resources, infrastructure and the overall effectiveness of rehabilitation programs.
Panapasa adds that urgent measures are deemed necessary to alleviate the overcrowded conditions and uphold the standards essential for the well-being of inmates and correctional personnel.