The Senior City Solicitor of Grand Kru County has raised eyebrows over the prolonged absence and delay in the construction of a modern prison center in the county.
According to Chris Aloysius Teah, the prevailing situation is negatively impacting one of the key components of the criminal justice structure of the county.
He said this longstanding and highly regrettable situation has resulted to transporting perpetrators of major crimes, convicts and pretrial detainees to Maryland, River Gee, Sinoe and Grand Gedeh counties on commercial motorbikes.
He pointed out that the current situation is “not good” for the county and relatives of detainees who want to visit their family member who are behind bars.
Speaking on the local radio station Ahteenah Radio in Barclayville at the weekend ahead of the April 13, 2022 Development Sitting, the Grand Kru acting Joint Security Chairperson Teah, proposed to that august body to make available between forty to forty-five thousand United States dollars from the county development fund to construct a prison in the county.
He disclosed that when his proposal is accepted by the council, it will further enhance and strengthen the three components of the legal system in the efficient dispensation of justice in Grand Kru, as well as restore citizens’ confidence in legal the system.
The county’s Legal Prosecutor vowed that if his request is downplayed during the council sitting, he will boycott the gathering, noting that it will prove to the outside world that the county’s legislative caucus, ordinary and local county authorities do not have interest in seeing the county’s legal system improve for the betterment of citizens.
He pointed out that the construction of a prison compound in the county will make it possible for local citizens, county administration and legislative caucus to persistently engage central government through the Ministry of Justice, as Grand Kru County is the only county in Liberia without a prison center, despite reports submitted to the justice ministry.
The lack of a detention facility and inadequate police officers to combat crimes are major impediments the criminal justice system is faced with,” he lamented, pointing out that the LNP female component of the cell is the only one being used by authorities of the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation to keep both male and female inmates, which is unusual,” Teah said.
According to him, in more than five county development sittings in
Grand Kru and during sectoral meetings, his local office has renewed calls on the county administration and the central government through the county’s legislative caucus for the construction of said structure, but “all has fallen on deaf ears.”
He confirmed to newsmen that the absence of the correction center has resulted to correction officials rejecting inmates sent by various Magisterial Courts within the county due to limited space at the withholding cell, noting that the facility can only provide comfortable accommodation for less than fourteen persons.
He said this has over the period resulted to family members affixing their signatures to court documents to have alleged perpetrators of crimes, with the exception of rape and murder, including other felonious crimes, set free on bond.
‘’My men are risking their lives on a daily basis to combat crimes and to transport inmates on motorbikes to nearby counties to be detained; we do not have as a county government an assigned car for the county’s justice actors; and this situation is making our jobs extremely difficult, and needs to be addressed by relevant stakeholders,” Teah emphasized.
He wants central government to see the need to construct the prison compound as urgent, as well as deploy more police officers in Grand Kru County.
Meanwhile, a source close to the Grand Kru County administration has disclosed that local government officials and the county legislative caucus have initiated several discussions with the central government to ensure the construction of such a facility, but attributed the delay in erecting the compound to economic constraints occasioned by the global health crisis.