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Project topic for Criminology department.



1.1 Background of the Study

According to Section 2(4) of the Nigerian Prison Act of 1972, the aim of imprisonment is to identify the reason for anti-social behaviour of the offenders; to train, rehabilitate and reform them to be good and useful citizens. It is therefore expected that recidivism will decrease if the objective of imprisonment is achieved by planning and providing proper rehabilitation for prisoners. This will enable them to be law abiding citizens in the society and engage in productive activities for their daily living on release from prison.

Colonial prisons in Nigeria were however not designed for reformation or rehabilitation; rather, prisons were intended to be punitive. Hence, prisoners were used mainly for public works and other jobs for the colonial administrators as a form of punishment (Investigating Human Right, 2015; 176-184). At the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), there was a remarkable shift in penal philosophy, particularly in colonial territories. The emphasis was no longer primarily on the punishment of criminals but there was also concern for their reformation and rehabilitation (Igbo, 2007). Officially, it is claimed that the role of the Nigerian prison services is tripartite in nature. Firstly, the service is responsible for the safe custody of persons legally interned. Secondly, it provides treatment to them, and thirdly, it seeks to rehabilitate them. The philosophy of the Nigerian prison service is that treatment and rehabilitation of offenders can be achieved through carefully designed and well-articulated administrative, reformative and rehabilitative programmes aimed at inculcating discipline, respect for the law and order and regard for the dignity of honest labour (Nigerian Prison Service Manual, 2011).

A prisoner without adequate rehabilitation opportunity through skill training and capacity building usually returns to the society which has incarcerated him or her as a hardened enemy of that society. Such an ex-convict is often full of desire for vengeance because he or she sees himself or herself as victimized rather than corrected. In addition, such an ex-convict is likely to do more harm than good to a society invariably perceived as an oppressive system. This condition explains to a very large extent why many Nigerian ex-prisoners end up as recidivists (Ugwuoke, 1994).

The rehabilitation of prison inmates should begin from the very day they are admitted into the prison to the day they are discharged (Igbo, 2007). This is to ensure that they utilize the skills they acquired in the course of rehabilitation to live a law abiding life in the society. There are a number of programmes in place meant to divert offenders from crime to useful pursuits that make crime unattractive or condemnable such as moral or religious institutions, education, vocational training etc. Based on the fact that efforts of the prisons in equipping the inmates with vocational skills are faced with various problems, questions as to whether the prisons are actually rehabilitating convicts, the effectiveness of these rehabilitation programmes or whether there is an existing conflict between the punitive ideas of imprisonment inherited from the colonialism and the need for rehabilitation are issues of concern. The above necessitated the interest of this study of Enugu Central Prison to assess the effectiveness of the prison service in rehabilitation of offenders in Enugu Central Prison in particular and Nigeria in general.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Despite the noble objectives of reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration which the Nigerian prison system embarks on to ensure that criminals become changed persons, the realization of this objective has been obstructed by certain factors. Ayodele (1993) asserts that “the rate at which ex-convicts are returning to jail is alarming. Reformation of prisoners has not been effective as every year criminals who become more hardened and deadly are released as against changed individuals expected by the society”. Ayodele further stated that “prisons have in modern times become training ground and school for a new category of criminals and patterns of crime unknown to the society”. In addition, Asokhia & Agbonluae (2013) reported that the prison is just where one learns one or two mistakes that led to one being arrested, so that inmates get smarter by sharing experience with more learned colleagues. In line with this, Adelaja (2009) noted that prisoners left unoccupied with constructive and positive activities are likely to perfect their criminal activities through the learning of new tricks from other inmates.

The claim that Nigerian prisons are engaged in carefully designed and well articulated reformative and rehabilitative programmes aimed at inculcating discipline and respect among convicts (Nigerian Prison Service Manual, 2011) is not supported by the rule of retributive punishment which prison administrators have continued to enforce. Adjustment of discharged prisoners in Nigeria has become a huge problem because the society has come to view such discharged prisoners as social misfits who are not amenable to corrections. Such discharged prisoners are therefore, stigmatized and treated as social pariahs. This rejection by the society sometimes forces them back to crime. In addition, Latessa & Allen (1999) expressed the view that the inmate who has served a longer amount of time in prison has had his tendencies toward criminality strengthened and is therefore more likely to recidivate than the inmate who has served a lesser amount of time. They argued that prisons are like schools of crime where one learns more crime from the peers (inmates).

Ugwuoke (2000) observed that the Nigerian penal institutions are saddled with the function of performing contradictory roles. On the one hand, the prisons are expected to reform and rehabilitate inmates; while on the other hand, they are equally expected to perform the retributive function of ensuring that the inmates are adequately punished for their crimes. Despite the fact that the Nigerian prisons service today, is assigned the onerous responsibility of ensuring the safe custody of offenders as well as their reformation and rehabilitation (Nigerian Prisons Service, 2009), huge part of the prisons’ activities favour retribution. In reaction to this, Ugwuoke (2000) affirmed that the Nigerian prisons service is in a dilemma because rehabilitation and retribution practices are not compatible. It is to this effect that one wonders whether the prisons are actually rehabilitating convicts or are still depending on punitive practices. To this end, Nigerian prisons find it difficult to perform their statutory functions which include the custody of offenders as well as their reformation and rehabilitation (Nigerian Prison Service Manual, 2011).

In Nigeria, the welfare of prisoners and prison officials is nothing to write home about. The prevailing poor conditions (poor feeding, toilets, beddings among others), which the prison officials and inmates are subjected to, have provided a fertile ground for revolt. Indeed, most of the incidents of jailbreak that have been recorded in the country were occasioned by the unbearable inhuman situation in our prisons (Udutchay, 2010). Some prison officials sometimes incite inmates to involve themselves in jailbreak because of the prevailing conditions.

In order to address these problems and many more, this study assesses the effectiveness of the prison service in rehabilitation of offenders in Nigeria, using Enugu Central Prison as a case study.

1.3 Research Questions/Hypothesis

To guide in achieving the objectives of this study, I have formulated the following research questions and hypotheses:

  • What are the rehabilitation programmes provided for the inmates of Enugu Central Prison?
  • What are the impacts of the rehabilitation programmes on the inmates of Enugu Central Prison?
  • What are the challenges facing rehabilitation of prisoners in Enugu Central Prison?

Hypothesis One:

H0: Inmates of Enugu Central Prison are not provided with a significant number of rehabilitation programmes.

H1: Inmates of Enugu Central Prison are provided with a significant number of rehabilitation programmes.

Hypothesis Two:

H0: The rehabilitation programmes have no significant impacts on the inmates.

H1: The rehabilitation programmes have significant impacts on the inmates.

Hypothesis Three:

H0: There are no significant challenges facing rehabilitation of prisoners in Enugu Central Prison.

H1: There are significant challenges facing rehabilitation of prisoners in Enugu Central Prison.

1.4 Purpose of the Study

The broad purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of the prison service in rehabilitation of offenders in Nigeria.

More specifically, this study will ascertain the rehabilitation programmes provided for the inmates of the Enugu Central Prison, ascertain the impacts of the rehabilitation programmes on the inmates and identify the challenges militating against the rehabilitation programmes.

1.5 Significance of the Study

First, the management team of the Enugu Central Prison and those of other prisons in Nigeria will benefit from this study as it will help them to organize effective rehabilitation programmes for their inmates.

In the same vein, the inmates of the prisons will benefit immensely from this study as it will help them to acquire skills relevant for their survival in life within and outside the prisons.

Moreover, this study will be quite significant to the citizens of Enugu State and Nigeria at large as it will help to ensure that they live with well reformed ex-convicts and thereby enjoy peace in their environs.

In addition, this project report will serve as a reference material for further research on same or related topics.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study covers assessment of the effectiveness of the prison service in rehabilitation of offenders in Nigeria. The study is limited to the Enugu Central Prison, Enugu State, Nigeria.

1.7 Research Methods

The purposive sampling technique was adopted in the study. The convicted inmates of the prison under study were purposively sampled for the study.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Prison: In simple terms, a prison is a place of long-term/short-term confinement for those convicted of crimes, or otherwise considered undesirable for the society by the government.

Inmate: An inmate is a person confined to an institution such as a prison (as a convict).

Rehabilitation: In this context, rehabilitation means to restore (to a criminal, etc) the necessary training and education to allow for a successful reintegration into society; to retrain.

Recidivism: Recidivism simply means committing new offences after being punished for a crime. Recidivism refers to chronic repetition of criminal or other antisocial behaviour.

Convict: In the legal field, a convict is a person convicted of a crime by a competent judicial body. To convict means to find guilty.


: Enugu or Enugu metropolis is used to describe the major towns within and around the capital city of Enugu State, Enugu. The city had a population of 722,664 according to the 2006 Nigerian census. The name Enugu is derived from the two Igbo words, “Enu Ugwu” meaning “hill top” denoting the city’s hilly topography. The city was named after Enugwu Ngwo, under which coal was found. The area code is 042. The local government areas included in Enugu metropolis are Enugu East, Enugu North and Enugu South.

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