Prison Break

Veronica Gwaze
Popular Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, well known as Michael Scorfield, said preparations can only take you so far and after that, you have got to take a few steps of faith. He was preparing a grand master plan to break out of prison.

Many who have found themselves behind bars worldwide are probably inspired by Miller. However, the question is, does breaking out guarantee freedom?

Last year, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) recorded 63 prison breaks. A total of 62 escapees were males. ZPCS spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Banda said in 2017, the number of escapes decreased by 12 percent from 2016 cases.

“In 2016 we recorded a higher number of escapes and we are happy that 2017 recorded a decrease of 12 percent, signalling effective measures. We are still reinforcing our security to ensure that this year we record an even higher decrease,” said the Assistant Commissioner.

lt is still not clear why more males than females escape. But what could be causing these escapes? Ass Comm Banda said most escapees take advantage of the trips to the courts or fields.

“The major cause of the escape can be attributed to laxity on the part of the escorting officers because it is during these times that most cases are taking place. We have other cases where the escape is well planned and executed, however, these cases usually fail,” narrated Ass Comm Banda. According to ZPCS, of the 62 escapees, 27 were recaptured.

“Out of the 62 who escaped, we recaptured 27.”

ZPCS have upped their game by introducing training programmes and disciplinary action as measures to contain the escapes.

“Apart from individual disciplinary action which can be in form of punishment or even loss of jobs, depending on what the board of inquiry gathers upon investigation, the organisation is investing resources on training sessions.

“We are training officers on how best to guard against escapes as well as survival skills, especially when they are attacked by escaping inmates.”

However, Ass Comm Banda said the ZPCS is working tirelessly to contain such cases.

“We would like to assure society that we are doing our best to discourage any escapes, our duty is to prevent such incidences.

”Inmates are also equipped with information on the dangers and consequences of escaping. Recaptured inmates’ jail terms are reviewed upwards while the one third remission that would have been set aside on the first offence is added back.

“The one third remittance that is set aside on the initial offence is added back and apart from that, the sentence is reviewed upwards.

“Most of the people who escape are those who have already served long sentences and because their time is almost up, they decide to do anything to buy more time in prison. This could be because they cannot face society. Some escape when they still have very long sentences ahead.”

Assistant Commissioner Banda emphasised the need of complementary efforts from the citizens to help recapture the fugitives to safeguard society.

“In as much as we are responsible for the inmates, we need the society to work with us.

“We offer correctional services behind the bars. We mentor and nurture the inmates in such a way that when they are discharged, they will be reformed.

“It is our plan to build prisons that conform to the United Nations standards. However, it should clearly be understood that home and prison conditions are different.”

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