By – Jamylah Yusuf
A lot of times I wonder what people who are now referred to as criminals looked like when they were babies. I am talking about the hardened criminals. The ones who have murdered people, the rapists, the kidnappers, the terrorists. Were they once some tiny helpless little being that could only cry when they needed their mum’s attention. Were they once at the mercy of their caregivers like every other baby?. What went wrong? Who made them this hard. How can that cute little baby of yesterday be the same man that rapes and murders. Where did that innocence go?. Life happened i guess. It happens to folks differently. Some people have known only the hard life. No other kind of life makes sense. There are people life forced to skip childhood. They went from being babies, to adults who had to fend for themselves. The street is the only home they know of. They formed a new family linked by the strong chain of street hood. There is a street father, street mum, and there are kids. Like a regular family linked by blood, they look out for each other as long as there is no cause to question one’s loyalty.
A bulk of this fellows populate the prisons. They are either serving time for drug peddling, robbery, kidnapping, rape, or even murder. They have committed crimes and are therefore criminals. Now this is settled and i am not in anyway going to downplay the enormity of any of these crimes. I am also not going to condemn this folks as permanent criminals who do not have any hope of redemption. I am however going to condemn the system. The system includes the government and it laws, it includes the street, it includes you that used to be a neighbour to the guy you now call a criminal. It includes me that sits behind this keyboard and types away whatever comes to my head. We are all a part of this vicious circle of crime. Here’s how, The government and it’s laws is fucked up. There is no fact to argue against my assertion. How do you lock a person away for 5years who is awaiting trial, a person who is yet to be declared guilty or not guilty. Now what is the alleged crime? Theft. Theft of how much? About a 100,000 naira. I am not even going to say anything about the politicians and the millions they are celebrated for stealing. How are you a part of this circle? God help this ‘thief’ guy that he finally gets tried, serves his time and return. What do you refer to him as now? ‘An ex convict’ shey?. He no longer has a name. You cannot even fake a smile towards him. He is more dangerous than a time bomb right? He dare not walk on the street in the day else he may go deaf from the number of loud whispering women gossiping about him and telling their own version of his story. Employment is out of it sef. who wants to employ an ‘ex convict’? Bad market. I am a part of this because I am not any better than you. God bless me if i ever find myself on a lonely alley with the guy behind me. I will unleash my inner Usain Bolt.
But can we be faulted completely? This places are referred to as correctional facilities in some countries. Among the aims of the prison facility is reformation right? These folks are expected to come out better than they went in there after serving time. How is that possible if our prison facility can afford to pile more than twenty fully grown men in a room fit for one person. They are also expected to ease themselves in that same room when the need arises.
Nobody cares because they are prisoners and are being punished for their crimes. But what do we think happen to the minds of these people who have been kept under all of these inhumane condition. They are of course bitter and filled with a venom call vengeance. They want to take out the pain and suffering they felt over the years. They mostly make a bigger gang and do worse than what they were initially in jail for. So if the prisons are really for reformation, and people are released so they get another chance at life, the prisoners should be treated like people who have hope of redemption and not people who are braced for a second chance to commit an even bigger crime.