Kabarole Residents Want Community Service Scrapped

1939 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Michael Muhereza, a member of Bukuku Sub County community service committee, which monitors community service, says they expect offenders to reform but he is surprised that there isn’t any change.

Community service has come under scrutiny from residents of Kabarole district, with some calling for its abolition. Community service was introduced in Uganda in 2001 as part of the reforms in the criminal justice system. Under the Community service system, minor offenders are assigned simple community tasks by court instead of being handed custodial sentences. However, in Kabarole district, some residents believe community services is not effective in reforming offenders and want it scrapped.

Statistics at Kabarole district community service department show that more than 80 offenders have served community service orders more than three times, an indication that it has not helped them to reform. Michael Muhereza, a member of Bukuku Sub County community service committee, which monitors community service, says they expect offenders to reform but he is surprised that there isn’t any change.

Muhereza blames this on lack of funds to facilitate volunteers who are supposed to regularly visit the offenders in their homes and counsel them about the dangers of engaging in criminal activities. George Tusiime, a resident of Fort Portal wants community service scrapped or the courts give heavy punishment to offenders who don’t reform after their sentence. According to Tusiime, some offenders don’t fear engaging in criminal activities, because they know that they will be given a lighter punishment.

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Some members of the public also claim that they are not benefiting from the programme because the implementers have turned community service into a lucrative money-making venture.

Steven Birungi, a resident of Karago in Kichwamba Sub County says community service would be of much help if offenders are given tasks such as cleaning up community roads instead of deploying them to work on the estates of rich district officials.

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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 Justice Law and Order Sector, prisons would have had more inmates if the 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.