Community Service Programme Not A Success In Kabarole

2217 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Many offenders are not reforming after they have served their community service orders.

Community service orders for offenders are not bearing fruit in Kabarole district.

 The Community Service Act was passed in Parliament in 2000 to provide for intermediate sanction to offenders instead of jail for minor and non-violent offenses.

An offender serving a Community Service Order is required to perform up to 980 hours (within 6 months) of unpaid work in his community of residence.

Although the programme is being implemented in the district, many offenders are not reforming, even after successfully serving their community service orders.

Statistics at the district community service office indicates that more than 80 offenders have served community service orders more than three times.

Charles Baguma, the chairperson of the district community service committee, says that last month, 60 offenders who had been issued with community service later engaged in criminal activities after serving their order.

According to Baguma, the high number of offenders who are sentenced to community service affects the committee’s work because they lack Probation and Social Welfare Officers because they are understaffed.

Felix Mugisa, a resident of Fort Portal, blames the police and district community service committees for failure of the programme. He says that some of the officials are ignorant about community service orders.

He says that after serving their sentence, the offenders are supposed to be counseled about the dangers of crime. Mugisa also says that the committees should develop a rehabilitation programme of the offenders after completion of their sentence.

He says that tree planting and brick making projects should be set up, in order not to lure members of the community  to engage in crime.

//Cue in: “people aren’t sensitized…
Cue out: “…the rehabilitation programme.”//

Edward Balisanga, a member of the district community service committee, says that lack of awareness about community service, is caused by limited funds.

Balisanga says that volunteers to follow up offenders, who have finished serving their sentence, were recruited last year, but abandoned work, because they weren’t paid.

Community service is seen as a viable approach to improve reintegration of offenders into their communities, encourage reconciliation, as well as to reduce the problems of overcrowding in prisons.

According to the 2011/2012 Justice Law and Order report, prisons would have had more than 8,000 more prisoners if community service order had not been issued by courts.

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.