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CAPIO Conducts Psychological Assessment in Enugu, Oji River and Nsukka Prison

The advocacy championed by CAPIO led to the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Enugu State. The law will largely curb incidences of human rights abuse in prisons, whilst also promoting efficient justice delivery in the State. On implementation of the law in the courts, large number of people awaiting trial will be eligible for release from prison. This necessitated the need to carry out psychological intervention in prisons across Enugu State, in anticipation of subsequent release of inmates.
CAPIO partnered with the Nigerian Psychological Association to conduct psychological assessments of inmates in Enugu, Oji River and Nsukka prisons. This intervention was centered on assessing the mental health status of inmates, with a view to building the capacity of prison psychologist to effectively handle psychological challenges of inmates in their custody. Participating inmates completed tests of intelligence and neurological functioning, as well as instruments on psychological distress and personality patterns. On assessment of inmates, it was discovered that longer lengths of incarceration affected their cognitive function and neurological integrity. This suggests that prolonged stay in prison is linked to poor cognitive performance in inmates, and may also make them prone to neurological damage. It was also discovered that prolonged incarceration negatively impacted the intellectual abilities of inmates, which may be connected to the prison conditions of inmates or prison regimes. Inmates predominantly suffered from psychological ailments associated with somatization, depression, anxiety and aggression, to mention a few. In addition, an alarming rate of substance use was prevalent among inmates. On recommendation of psychologists that carried out the intervention, CAPIO is currently conducting psycho-education in the target prisons, using visual imagery and graffiti to educate inmates on the negative consequences of substance abuse. CAPIO intends to conduct more psychological interventions for inmates in the near future.
It is evident that there is an urgent need for the consolidated efforts of Nigerian prison Service, NGOs and concerned individuals, in providing psychological intervention for prisoners. The prisons should be correctional and rehabilitative facilities where inmates are reformed, in anticipation of re-integration into society at large. This reformation will not only be beneficial to inmates who will become productive citizens on release, but will also purge the society of criminal recidivism attributable to poor mental health.
The effort of the present administration in constructing rehabilitation centres in borstal homes is quite commendable. It is highly suggested that drug-rehabilitation institutions should also be established in regular prisons, to curb the high rate of drug abuse among inmates. It is also suggested that policies be adopted to ensure sustainability of these interventions.

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