In colloquial terms, jail delivery is the liberation of persons from prison. In legal parlance, it is the clearing of a jail by bringing the prisoners to trial or by having the legality of their commitments reviewed. Better put, it is the decongestion of prisons by the Chief Judge of a State. In Enugu, jail delivery is conducted yearly, in Enugu maximum security prison, Nsukka and Oji River minimum security prisons. During this exercise, mobile courts are set up in prisons, where the Chief Judge and other judges discharge and/or acquit inmates who have been incarcerated for a period of time exceeding the maximum incarceration period for the alleged offence and/or unjustly detained. Judges are empowered to carry out jail delivery by sections 11(a) and (b) of the Criminal Justice (release from custody) (special provisions) Act LFN 2007.
The jail delivery exercise for this year took place on the 25th, 26th and 30th of July 2018. The exercise kicked off at Enugu maximum security prison at 10am, with a procession of attendees led by the Chief Judge of the State, followed by other Judges, legal practitioners and civil society organisations. In his opening remarks, the comptroller of Enugu prisons encouraged judges and legal practitioners to ensure that inmates deserving of release are set free, especially, reformed inmates. The Chief Judge addressed the gathering, acknowledging the ever present need to decongest the prisons. She stated that the high rate of congestion has exposed inmates to endemic diseases, jail breaks and lack of reform. Hence, the State judiciary is committed to ensuring that the prisons and courts are decongested. The Chief Judge therefore enjoined her learned brothers to verify trial proceedings of inmates in their respective courts to ensure that trials are progressing.
The court sessions commenced in earnest at the conclusion of the Chief Judge’s speech. As usual, CAPIO’s legal team, psychologist and volunteers were present to represent inmates. CAPIO represented about 70 inmates in the entire exercise, from the three prisons visited. 17 of the inmates were discharged while 14 were granted bail, making a total of 31 inmates who were released through CAPIO’s Legal intervention. Some of these inmates were directly released to CAPIO to provide other forms of assistance and rehabilitation. In the court designated for asylum cases, CAPIO secured the release of about 6 inmates. CAPIO’s psychologist advised inmates represented by CAPIO on how to properly adjust in the society, having been granted bail or successfully discharged. The psychologist equally observed that inmates released from asylum were mentally unfit to reenter society, as they could pose danger to themselves and their neighbours. Hence, it was strongly recommended that these inmates undergo mental rehabilitation immediately after release. At the conclusion of the jail delivery exercise, a total number of ninety one (91) inmates were granted bail while thirty eight (38) inmates were outrightly discharged. The statistics align with the Chief Judge’s remark about the commitment of the State judiciary to decongest the prison, as it is alleged to be the highest number of releases secured during jail delivery exercises in recent times.