17 inmates released from Juba Central Prison
At least 17 inmates charged with different crimes were released from Juba Central Prison in Central Equatoria State on Friday after a group of pro bono lawyers and legal aid organizations paid their fines.
Addressing the media after the release of the inmates, the director of administration at the prison, Edward Anyak Deng, said the decision to release the inmates was arrived at after a group of lawyers from the Legal Aid and Human Rights Organization in collaboration with Human Appeal Associates (a law firm), came to their rescue.
“I want to thank the legal aid organization for its wonderful role and decision to help because if a group of lawyers can mobilize themselves and come to the prison to do something like this, it is great,” he said. We as the prison administration thank them so much for releasing the 17 people some of who had completed their sentences but were still in prison because they have not paid their fines.”
Deng said that the release of the 17 inmates has helped decongest the prison.
On his part, Leek John Alier, the executive director of the Legal Aid and Human Rights Organization, said they decided to help release the inmates because most of them could not afford to pay the fines determined by court.
He said three organizations pooled USD 2,000 to have the convicts released.
“We have so many plans but this is the first step. In the next two weeks, we may release 50 more prisoners,” he disclosed.
When asked why only males were released, Alier said they requested for both male and female inmates but that the prison authorities did not avail the names of any females.
Meanwhile, Kitab Agustino who represented Human Appeal Associates, said the released inmates will undergo rehabilitation before being integrated into the community.
“We are going to be responsible for the inmates who have been released and rehabilitate them before they rejoin society,” he said.
Bonny Okwona, the representative of the released inmates who was serving a 6 months jail term for drunkenness, said he had reformed.
“I was charged for excessive drinking under article 13 of the Penal Code. Prison has taught me about the dangerous effects of alcohol,” he said. “When I would be drunk, I went home tired both physically and mentally. In the last 6 months, I came to realize that there were a lot of things missing in my life.”