By Adedeji Egbebi
A serving Corps member in Ekiti, Miss Elizabeth Balogun, on Tuesday proposed to float a rehabilitation scheme and social reformation services for ex-convicts across Nigeria.
Balogun in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ado-Ekiti,
said that the idea was because of the derogatory remarks and bondage usually meted out to ex-convicts after serving out their terms in correctional centres.
She said that when ex-convicts would have regained their freedom, the negative tags on them make it helpless for them to easily integrate into the society.
According to her, whether they were guilty of the offence or not, the criteria for their freedom must have been that, they had learnt some lessons while in prison.
Therefore, they should have an improved mindset to live a better life after regaining their freedom, she said.
Balogun advocated a reintegration plan that would make their existence meaningful and impactful to the society.
“Prisons now renamed correctional centres are set up with the sole aim of correcting the bad deeds of people who had been found guilty of an offence.
“However, it is disheartening how some people who know nothing about a crime are still imprisoned.
“However, when freed, they are relegated to the background and are almost given no chance of integrating with the larger society.
“Such can lead to failed relationships, homelessness, substance misuse, and suicide,’’ she said.
Balogun quoting from the National Institute of Justice said, 80 per cent of ex-convicts had been rearrested within five years of their release because there were no reintegration plans for them.
“Also, once they are released, they are not released from the stigma by the society.
“The journey even becomes tougher for the ex-convicts than it was before as they will be subjected to stigmatisation, discrimination, isolation, and instability.’’
Balogun said that for those reasons she was proposing to have an NGO called ‘The Eagle Movement’ to cater for character reformation, rehabilitation, and empowerment and job enhancement for ex-convicts.
She said that the NGO would comprise lawyers, counsellors, educators, vocational trainers, and entrepreneurs, who would collaborate in achieving her goal.
“This way, they can have a chance to live a better life again and become instrumental, thereby serving also as a correctional tool to the society.’’
She appealed for supports from individuals, government, the organised private sector, and philanthropists for sponsorship of programmes aimed at reforming ex-convicts and give them a new name.
NAN reports that Miss Elizabeth Balogun is currently serving at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti state council in Ado-Ekiti.