1.1 Background to the Study
Laws are made in every society to regulate the behaviour of people and to ensure that individual live according to expectation of the society. However, crimes are committed in the society daily. Once convicted, criminals are imprisoned. The Nigeria prisons service is charged with the responsibility to keep convicts. It keeps custody, reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders. The extent to which they have been able to achieve these objectives is the focus of this research.
Successful re-integration starts within the prison itself. During the period of incarceration, social reintegration programmes should be designed to fully meet prisoners educational, technical, vocational, cultural and health needs while being delivered in a setting which respects dignity and human rights. The prison should therefore be used as an effective tool to equip offenders with the necessary social and educational resources which can help them desist from crime when they are released.
According to Travis (2005) social reintegration is affected by how successfully programmes which were started in prison can be accessed, continued, practiced or completed in the community. He further stressed that there exists a wide range of treatment and reformation programs to prison offenders, like anger and aggression control program, anti-criminal thinking programes, job-rendiness training, sex offender program, drugs offender therapy. There are also myriads of industrial programs in which offenders can work while they are in prison, to provide service while gaining some of the skills they will need for re-integration into society.
All the aforementioned laudable programmes are rarely applied because most prison inmates return home years later in worse shape than when they committed the crimes that resulted in their imprisonment. Majority of the inmates leave prison and return to society largely uneducated, unskills with severe social and medical problems, often without family support and with the stigma of a prison record hanging over them. Many experience serious socio-psychological problems after release. As ex-convicts are periodically released into the society, their systemic marginalization threaten the very society their imprisonment was meant to protect. The question is what toll does this constant release of prison inmates who have duly served their term exact on a community. What do these trends portend for public softy?
Aftercare services has the overall intents through effective correctional administration to reduce the high level of criminality among Nigeria lessening of prejudice against ex-prisoners in aid of their successful resettlements, to reduce the rate of recidivism, promote entrepreneurship of ex-prisoners and the reduction of unemployment in Nigeria society. The question is, how successful has aftercare been, in its goals and objective? Another question is, what are the challenges faced by aftercare services in the reintegration of ex-prisoners?
This research examines the realities of prisoners reintegration and proffering specific solutions to prepare inmates for release, reduce recidivism, and restore them to full citizenship, while never losing sight of the demand of public safety. The study will also examine the obstacle of reintegrating ex-convicts in Akwa Ibom State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Offenders released from confinement encounter a myriad of challenges with respect of securing employment. These include personal factor such as how self-esteem, low motivation, skill deficit, lack of training, poor academic standard, substance abuse, social factors such as negative peer influence, and absence of family support and poor employment record. These is no gainsaying that obtaining legal employment is one of the best predictions of the post-release success of ex-prisoners. They receive little pre-release support in securing accommodation and are often unable to find suitable living arrangements. Social isolation is a core experience of may ex-prisoners who may end up homeless or with unsuitable housing.
Drug dependent offenders are caught in a vicious circle unless the treatment they receive in prison for their addiction is maintained on their return to the community, the chances are that they will relapse and begin attending again to support their drug use; according to Burows et al, (2001) “failure for ex-prisoners to access appropriate support services in the community can result in offenders returning to prison time and time again as the cycle of offending is perpetuated”.
Given the fact that may convicted persons do lose their fundamental right, they are likely to maintain criminal in the real sense by recidivism many released prisoners find it difficult to design life a new, once they know that they have lost certain rights of their own. It is debilitating effect of civil disabilities on the ex-convict the inhibits him or her from participating actively in community life programmes for his or her wellbeing and for the well-being of the entire community or nation.
Prison inmates are expected to the adaptive process of prisonisation which usually affects the prisoners in their transition as they return to the free world.
Research has shown that prolonged incarceration and poor prison condition certainly has psychological impact on the prisoners and has dire implication for post-prison free world adjustment. Life in the prison is depriving. The pains of imprisonment can serve to impede post prison adjustment. This study set out to investigate the reasons for the failure of post-integration of ex-convict in Akwa Ibom State.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study is to examine the aftercare service and reintegration of ex-convicts in Nigeria, with particular reference to Akwa Ibom State specifically the objectives of the study are:
- To examine the obstacles to reintegrate ex-convicted in Akwa Ibom State.
- To ascertain the state of re-information of and rehabilitation programmes in Nigeria prisons services in Akwa Ibom State.
iii. To ascertain the efficacy of the aftercare service in Akwa Ibom State.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the obstacles to the reintegration of ex-convicts in Akwa Ibom State?
- What is the state of reformation/reintegration programmes in Nigeria Prison Service in Akwa Ibom State?
iii. How effective are the Aftercare services in Akwa Ibom State?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
- There is no relationship between the quality of reintegrate programmes in the prison and successful reintegration into society after discharge.
- There is no relationship between the condition of prisons and successful reintegration into society after discharge.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will help other researchers to carry out a qualitative and comprehensive analysis of aftercare service in other states of the federation. The result of the study will help to further educate the academic community on Nigerian prisons service strategic roles and challenges. It will give prisoners an insight of what they will face on being released as such they could be motivated to engage in occupation and vocational training in order to make the self-reliant on discharge. It will make government to take steps in putting up a legal framework for comprehensive reform of the Nigeria prison system. The study will further assist the government to formulate crime control policy. The present policy of the government if to get criminal out of circulation by imprisonment. Less attention is paid to what happens when the convicted prisoner is released back into the society.
1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The study is delimited to the aftercare unit of prison in Uyo, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Abak and Ikot Abasi Ex-prisoners, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) employers of labour and community leaders in Akwa Ibom State were involved in the study. This study is limited to Akwa Ibom State. They reason for choosing Akwa Ibom State includes its-proximity to the researcher, and the familiarity of the researcher with the area which facilitated the collection of data.
1.8 Definition of Key Concepts
Aftercare Service: This is a scheme intended by the Nigerian prison services for the treatment and rehabilitation of discharged prisoners. The scheme is aimed at facilitating the re-integration of ex-convicts into the society through collaboration with NGOs, Employers of labour, community leaders etc.
Crime: This is a violation of societal rules as interpreted and expressed by a criminal legal code of a particular society and are subject to sanctions by state authority.
Punishment: It is the legal imposition of a penalty as ret4ribution for an offence.
Ex-convict: It refers to a person who has been released from prison after serving his sentence. In this study, the term “ex-convict”, “expresoner” and “ex-offender” will be used interchangeably.