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The study was designed to establish whether declining prison facilities interfered with the rehabilitation of offenders in Ikoyi prison, Lagos State, Nigeria. An approach drawing from both quantitative and qualitative methodologies was adopted. A cross-sectional survey and in-depth interview of prisoners enabled the exploration of specific objectives formulated around the purpose of the study, which included the need to know how ‘needs assessment and classification of offenders correlated with their progress in the rehabilitation process’, and ‘the effect of improved prison industry on the creation of jobs opportunities for the interned offenders’. A probability sampling technique was adopted for the study. Thus, simple random sampling method was used to select a sample size of 183 inmate-respondents from a total of 1,835 inmate population in Ikoyi prison. Also, non-probability sampling technique was adopted in the study to select ten (10) prison personnel, and ten (10) inmates, using quota sampling method. In total, 20 respondents were selected for the in-depth interview. Quantitative and qualitative data generated during the study were analysed using frequency distribution tables and simple percentage, andcontent analysis.The study found no positive correlation between needs assessment and classification of offenders and their progress in rehabilitation process, inmates who participated in vocational education and training were less likely to reoffend, inmates tortured by prison officers were more likely to be driven toward collective behaviour, improved prison industry would create job opportunities for inmates.The study concluded that there was a constant increase in the prevalence of recidivism; especially among male inmates and that most crimes¸ patterns of relationships and behavioural predispositions were offender specific. Recommendations were made.




Since the inception of the modern criminal justice system, a persistent response to the question of what to do with offenders has been to rehabilitate them in the mainstream of social life (Paranjape, 2011: 463). Prisons are usually structured to identify the peculiar problems of each inmate and device means of guiding him or her out of the problem. Although prisons are considered as the most widely used institutions of correctional administration but their role has been a subject of severe criticism and scrutiny from the point of view of rehabilitation of prisoners (or offenders) (Ugwuoke, 2010 and Paranjape, 2011). An observation of the population that goes in and out of the prisons shows that there are some problems in the system; hence, the prison system has not been able to achieve the ultimate goal of rehabilitation.

More than half of a century ago, Gresham Sykes wrote that “life in the maximum security prison is depriving or frustrating in the extreme” (Sykes, 1958:63), and little has changed to alter that view. Indeed, sykes’s observation is perhaps more meaningful now than he first made it, because prison facilities in many parts of the world are in poor condition (Cavadini and Dignan 2002; 2006; 2007/13). The disrepair is such that even in European countries, where prisons are generally considered good, prisoners are ‘simmering on the point of riot or rebellion’ (Cavadino and Dignan 2006: 43). The discontent is not only with their fellow inmates, but also with prison staff, who are often demoralized, disaffected and restless (Cavadino and Dignan 2006). A prison is not expected to be exactly a bed of roses (as the inmates are there for penal purposes), neither is it supposed to be a bed of thorns and thistles meant to snuff life out of the occupants.Edwin James wrote that “prison experience for the inmates in the main consists of enforced idleness and an obligation to conform to behaviour which primarily is aimed at maintaining the smooth operation of the institution and less about assisting offenders with their problems, or helping them to desist from crime (James, 2006: 19-27). This may have prompted scholars such as Edgar et al. (2011: 3) to argue that “prisons conspire to create model inmates rather than model citizens”.

Whilst Prison facilities in Africa are moving toward behaviour change approaches for inmate rehabilitation in the same way as their European counterpart, the degree of success in their implementation is however inadequate (Tenibiaje, 2010 and Ijaiya, 2009). Although prisons are supposed to be places for transformation and rehabilitation, scholars have adjudged Nigerian prisons a school of crime (Obioha, 1995; Adetula et al., 2010; Tanimu, 2010; Tenibiaje, 2010). Dambazau (2007: 210) has proposed that inmates left unoccupied with positive and constructive activities are likely to engage in vices, such as sale and use of drugs. Despite the fact that approximately half of inmates go on to re-offend when released from prison (Prison Reform Trust, 2011: 26) as a growing body of evidence has suggested (Soyombo, 2009; Wilson, 2009; Ministry of Justice, 2010; National Bureau of Statistics, 2010 and Abrifor et al. 2010), much of what is done within prisons is not based on sound evidence but, rather, on custom, bureaucratic convenience, and political ideology (James 2006; Lipsey and Cullen, 2007: 3).

The recurring relationship between imprisonment, release and recidivism has ensured that policy makers have given this subject considerable attention over the past two decades in particular. “[N] early three in five prisoners are re-convicted within two years of leaving prison” (Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP, ‘foreword’ to McEvoy, 2008: 4). Of the offenders released in 2004 in Britain, 58% were convicted of another crime within two years (Home Office 2007: 1). In 2009, 90% of the adults receiving a custodial sentence in the United Kingdom had previously been convicted on at least one prior occasion. According to the Ministry of Justice’s November 2010 Compendium of Reoffending Statistics, 20% of the offenders who were discharged from custody between January and March 2000 had been reconvicted within three months (Ministry of Justice, 2010). This figure rose to 43% after a year, 55% after 2 years and 68% after 5 years. By 2009, 74% of the initial cohort had been reconvicted (Ministry of Justice, 2010).

An assessment carried out in 2010 by the Director of National Intelligence on former Guantanamo Bay detainees indicated that an estimated 20% of them had re-engaged in criminal activities (Director of National Intelligence, 2010).

Soyombo (2009) reported that the rate of occurrence of criminal recidivism in Nigeria in 2005 was 37.3%. Also, Abrifor et al. (2010) estimated the prevalence of recidivism in Nigerian prisons at 52.4% in 2010. Since then, there has not been any indication that the trend has declined. A report on trend and pattern of recidivism shows that 81% of male criminal inmate offenders and 45% of female criminal inmate offenders were re-arrested within 36 months of discharge/release from the prison custody (Wilson, 2009 and Abrifor et al., 2010).

The figures are even more startling when one considers that young male offender within the age groups of 18 to 20 years in England and Wales were reconvicted at a rate of 64% over the same period (Home Office, 2007: 6). While the reconviction rates in Northern Ireland are only slightly lower for adults (46% within two years), the figure for young offenders (74% within two years) underlines the deeply rooted nature of the problem of recidivism (NIPS/NIPB Resettlement Strategy, 2003: 5, cited in McEvoy, 2008: 4).

A study on the offender’ educational experience and learning needs showed that in the prison population, a lack of basic skills is common: 48% of prisoners have a reading age at or below the level of an 11 year old (this increases to 65% for numeracy and 82% for writing skills), half of all prisoners do not have the skills required by 96% of jobs and only 1 in 5 can complete an application form (Prison Reform Trust, 2009). In 2005, the Department for Education and Skills reported that 52% of male prisoners and 71% of female prisoners had no qualifications at all (Department for Education and Skills, 2005). The lack of qualifications and difficulties with communication are parts of the explanation of high levels of offender unemployment – 13 times higher for offenders than in the general population. Furthermore, studies have reiterated that the majority of prisoners worldwide come from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Poverty, unemployment, lack of housing, broken families, histories of psychological problems and mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence are realities that are likely to be found in most offenders’ lives (Belenko, 2002; James and Kenneth, 2004; Zhang, 2004; United Nations, 2006; Przybylski, 2008; Reichert, 2010; Chaturvedi, 2006, cited in Paranjape, 2011, and Pettit, 2012). According to Hawley et al. (2013: 5), among the 640,000 prison population in the E.U., there are a significant proportion of low-skilled Europeans. “Even though there are no exact data on the qualification levels of prisoners, it has been estimated that only three to five per cent (3 to 5%) of them would be qualified to undertake higher education, and in many countries there is a high instance of early school leaving among prisoners” (Hawley et al., 2013).

Tanimu (2010) has found that a typical convict in Nigerian Prison is a semi-literate male in the prime of his youth (18-29 years). He is most likely convicted for committing property-related crime. Occupationally, he is either unemployed or self-employed in the lowest occupational ladder.

The reasons given for re-offending are many, but as suggested in the following quote, vocational education, training and employment are internationally identified as pathways out of the recidivistic life of crime: “While many factors contribute to re-offending, offenders and ex-offenders tend to have skills levels well below those of the general population, and are much more likely to be unemployed” (Department for Education and Skills, 2005: 6), yet sustained employment is a key to leading a crime-free life. Low levels of qualifications have important negative effects on prisoners’ employment prospects upon release, which has been found to be one of the key factors influencing whether or not ex-convicts re-offend. Thus, the provision of basic skills education, and particularly, vocational training, in prisons has an important role to play in the reintegration process of prisoners. However, as noted by the European prison rules, it is important to provide educational opportunities, which meet the needs of individual prisoners. This includes providing education and training also for those who have higher prior educational attainment (Hawley et al., 2013).

Maxfield and Babbie (2008: 122) define recidivism as the re-occurrence of criminal behaviour. According to Scott and Marshall (2005: 552), recidivism is the conviction of crime on more than one occasion; thus, a recidivist is a person who re-offends (Scott and Marshall, 2005: 552). According to Maxfield and Babbie (2008), the rate of recidivism should be calculated by counting the number of prison release or by counting the numbers of offenders placed under community supervision who are re-incarcerated for technical violation or new offence within a uniform period of at-risk street time. According to Scott and Marshall (2005: 552), recidivism is measured in relation to the type of last sentence or last offence, as percentages re-offending, or re-convicted.


Historians have documented the existence of prisons in ancient Greece and Rome. For example, the Mamertine Prison, constructed in Rome in the 7th century B.C., consisted of a vast network of dungeons under the city’s main sewer (Champion, 2009). These subterranean cells held political dissidents and criminals for short periods of time in cramped, miserable conditions. However, the practice of confining wrongdoers for long periods as a form of punishment was not widespread until after the 15th century (Champion, 2009).

With the march of time and advancement of knowledge and civilization, the conditions of prisons also improved considerably. Since the present day penology centres round imprisonment as a measure of rehabilitation of offenders, the prisons are no longer mere detention houses for the offenders but they seek to reform inmates for their future life. The modern techniques of punishment lay greater emphasis on reformation, correction and rehabilitation of offenders (paranjape, 2011: 418). The modern prison system in Nigeria is essentially based on the British prison model which in itself is an outcome of prison development in America during the late eighteenth century.


The origin of modern prisons service in Nigeria is traceable to 1861 (Nigerian Prisons Service, 2013). The progressive incursion of the British into the hinterland and the establishment of British protectorate toward the end of the nineteenth century necessitated the establishment of the prisons as the last link in the Criminal Justice System (Elias, 1967). Prisons modelled on the one first established in Lagos in 1872 spread across the country in line with the gradual expansion of the colonial jurisdiction and in 1876, the prison ordinances came into force (PTS Kaduna, 1991). Thus, in 1910, there already were prisons in Degema, Calabar, Onitsha, Benin, Ibadan, Sapele, Jebba and Lokoja (Orakwe, 2014). In 1920, a Commission was set up to report on prison conditions and in 1932; a borstal was established in Enugu (Egu, 1990; PTS Kaduna, 1991: 14). The prisoners were in the main used for public works and other jobs for the colonial administration (Arthur, 1991). According to Orakwe (2014), it was not until 1934 that any meaningful attempt was made to introduce relative modernization into prison service. It was at this time that Colonel V. L. Mabb was appointed Director of Prisons by the then Governor, Sir Donald Cameron (Orakwe, 2014).


The abolition of Native Authority Prisons on the 1st of April, 1968 and the subsequent unification of the Prisons Service in Nigeria therefore marked the beginning of the Nigerian Prisons Service. In 1971, the government white paper on the reorganization of the prison was released. The establishment and growth of the prison is backed by various statutes, amongst which was the Prison Act No. 9 of 1972 (Nigerian Prisons Service, 1979; Orakwe, 2014), which was reviewed in 1990 and is currently under review. The Act, which is known as CAP 366, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1990, defines itself as ‘an act to make comprehensive provisions for the administration of prisons in Nigeria and other matters ancillary thereto’ (Nigerian Prisons Service, 1990: 1). The prison is charged, inter alia, with the responsibility of taking custody of those legally detained, identifying causes of their behaviour and retraining them to become useful citizens in the society (Federal Government of Nigeria, 1990: 3-5; Orakwe, 2014). From the foregoing, it seems clear that though the Decree makes secure custody the first role of the prisons, it also makes it explicit that reform and rehabilitation are the ultimate aims of the Prison Service.

Today, there are 235 prisons across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with a total capacity of 47,284. The inmate population has gradually grown from 43,312 to about 54,144 (male 53,069, female 1,075), with approximately 25,000 personnel ( The Prisons Service now has a command structure that boasts of 8 zonal commands, 36 states commands, 1 FCT command, 144 prisons including farm centres and 83 satellite prisons. It also has four training schools, one Staff College and 2 Borstal Institutions (Orakwe, 2014).

The above history, though clearly partial, is important to consider as: “[T] he correspondence between the ideal models of state institutions and their actual operation is complicated by the very process through which they come into being” (Aguirre, 2005: 11). We should not forget however that state institutions do not come into being once and for all; they are always in a process of coming into being. It is this fact that makes it imperative to focus analysis on ‘their actual operation’, their practices as well as their purported values or penal philosophies.

Whilst educational provision for offenders usually has the primary aim of reducing reoffending, the association between a lack of basic skills and offending is, as we have seen, not readily demonstrated (Harper and Chitty, 2005). Education does however have much further reaching benefits that may have more indirect, but no less significant impacts. Oreh (2006) rightly observed that education in prison is necessary because its provision will make the prisons become places of continuous and informal learning rather than ‘schools of crime’. Although there is very little research in Nigeria on prisons education (for example, Yakubu, 2002; Mango, 2006; Oreh, 2006; Evawoma-Enuku, 2006), inter-state research and international meta-analyses demonstrate the significant contribution that education and employment make to the reduction in reoffending rates. According to the Nigerian Prison Service Manual (2011), the realization of the object of rehabilitation of convicted offenders is to be done through a complicated set of mechanisms consisting among others: conscientiousness, group work, case work session, recreational activities, religious services and adult and remedial education programmes, educational development project, skills acquisition programme, mid-range industrial production, agricultural service and after-care service programme. The prison’s services providers should not only identify the causes of the prisons’ inmates anti-social behaviour but also endeavours to set them on the road to reform through induced self-rediscovery and eventual change for the better.

According to Federal Government of Nigeria (1989), some of the specific objectives of rehabilitative services in Nigerian prisons are to: ensure effective management of crisis situation of the prison inmates; an appropriate training for the prison inmates in order to reduce dependency; and promote the provision of adequate and accessible recreational and sporting facilities for the prison inmates. Rehabilitation services in Nigerian prisons therefore, should be aimed at increasing the educational and vocational skills of inmates, and their chances of success upon release. In order to accomplish these goals, prison inmates are encouraged to participate in rehabilitative programmes made available to them while in prison. This is crucial for prison inmates especially because many of them entered the prisons more socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged (Chaturvedi, 2006; Paranjape 2011; Pettit, 2012). The key to success in a free society for many of these socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged prison inmates is rehabilitation. There is no better way to help prison inmates re-enter the larger society successfully and break the in-and-out of jail cycle than to provide them with skills that they need to succeed on the outside world. Schuller (2009) describes how offenders often lack human, social and identity capital, and that engaging them in education can help on all three of these levels beyond increasing their ability to acquire qualifications (human capital). Clark and Dugdale (2008) assert that learning and skills might contribute something even more fundamental than reducing re-offending. Improving literacy skills might have the “potential for restoring to society those people who are excluded from full citizenship because they have yet to attain functional literacy. In short, reading interventions for offenders are justified not by reference to human wrongs but by reference to human rights” (Rice and Brooks, 2004: 2). Brooks similarly writes “Western governments … place less emphasis, but should place more, on the need for good basic skills as a human right so that everyone can fulfil their potential and therefore take a full role as private individuals, citizens, family members and employees – and probably earn more” (Brooks, 2010: 191). Enhanced personal development should be the central goal of learning (Schuller, 2009); and being individually empowering (Reuss, 1999); learning can have very positive effects on mental health (Field, 2009). Furthermore, offenders could benefit from acquiring the ability to better manage their own health needs (substance abuse, mental health) including learning to use health services to good effect (Schuller 2009). Research on offender perceptions, although limited, has highlighted some of the potential wider positive impacts of basic skills learning programmes, such as gains in self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation; having access to computers; and receiving encouragement for their progress (Adult Learning Inspectorate, 2004). Educational achievement, then, can have more than just direct, instrumental benefits. Arts based courses may have a distinct and important contribution to make, not least through links made with charities and voluntary organisations. Research into the impact of music based programmes for offenders in prisons found clear benefits and improvements in engagement with education more widely, interpersonal skills, improvements in social skills and relationships with prison staff and a decrease in aggressive behaviours. Some of the important features identified by offenders and staff which were seen to contribute to these benefits were participation in shaping the learning experiences, negotiating with others and sharing achievement through performance (Wilson et al., 2009).

With this in mind the researcher has sought to understand, through this inquiry, how the known risks of re-offending could be reduced and re-integration improved. An important contextual factor in the current delivery of rehabilitative programmes and services is that of inadequate rehabilitative facilities. This factor has resulted in a significant increase in the prisoner re-offending in recent years. Individual offenders who serve their whole time – some people do not even get a parole term – are simply released from prison without any assistance whatsoever (Narelle, 2010). A major consequence of inadequate rehabilitative facilities is diminished accessibility to prison programmes and services.

Despite calls for more comparative studies on penal institutions and inmates, the dominant axis of comparison remains the Anglo-American. Developing countries are arguably systematically excluded from comparative studies (King and Maguire, 1994; Weiss and South, 1998). While criminologists and practitioners have been active in the field of penal reform in developing countries, their reports remain limited to description and criticism with little by way of explanation or analysis. The tone of voice emanating from prisons in Africa notes that prisons are overcrowded, conditions are appalling, health is threatened, justice is slow, two-thirds of prisoners are waiting trial/not convicted, violence is the norm, and human rights are routinely violated (Aiyedogbo, 1988;Omorotionwman, 2005; Wines, 2005; Agomoh and Ogbozor, 2006; Sarkin, 2008; Amnesty International, 2008; Tenibiaje, 2010; Davidson and Chiemele, 2012). These voices, however, fail, of course, to tell us much about causes, dynamics or processes. Thus, this study takes as its starting point the need to account for prisons as institutions established to help inmates to get over their social handicaps and to remove the stigma that darkens their present and future life through rehabilitation. It is now widely acknowledged that rehabilitation schemes in prisons have been neglected by researchers seeking to study prisons despite repeated statements of their importance (Hawkins, 1976: 85; Thomas, 1978: 58–62; Liebling and Price, 2001: 4). Most studies of the prisons have been concerned with the sociological analysis of the prison as a social system and have examined the social structure, role and normative system, and value orientation of inmates (Goffman, 1961; McCorkle and Korn, 1954; Clemmer, 1958; Schraq, 1954; Civil Liberty Organization, 1995). These studies have developed propositions concerning the effect of prisons on both the institutional and post institutional behaviours of inmates. A number of studies (for example, Obioha, 1995; Adetula et al., 2010; Tenibiaje, 2010; Tanimu, 2010) have, hitherto, shown that contact with the prison institution in Nigeria makes the less hardened individuals to be more hardened in criminal activities upon release, with more tendencies than not, to relapse to criminal activities, which generates high frequency of recidivism.

This study is justified because prison inmates are members of the larger society whose movement are restricted. The prison aside serving as custody for convicted people doubles as a rehabilitative centre. Functional prison facilities, no doubt play a vital role in the rehabilitation process. This study, therefore, becomes imperative, in that its findings will reflect the kind of attention the prison system in Nigeria receives from the public and policy makers. It is assumed the findings will either leave the policy makers fulfilled or further challenged; and bring about a general awareness for rehabilitative needs of the interned offenders. Omorotionwman (2005) has reported that the Nigerian prisons are in sordid state and that the conditions under which prisoners live are pathetic, and do not meet modern and international standards for prisons inmates all over the world. Although rehabilitative policies are necessarily influenced by value, resource, organizational, and political factors (Rezmovic, 1979), it is suggested that programmes that seek to reduce criminal involvement should be informed by the scientific data on what works. The goal should be to develop a clearer understanding of what should be done to successfully rehabilitate offenders (Rhine, 1998). Therefore, the question is “To what extent can the prison rehabilitate inmates?” The answer to this question will hopefully be achieved by empirically examining the experiences of the inmates.

In the light of the above, the study seeks to explore what facilities are available in prison and why, how they are accessed or used, how staff respond to and facilitate rehabilitation of offenders (or inmates), and how inmates conduct their work within the facilities. This will involve a critique of inmates’ assessment of facilities in the prison, followed by an assessment of the inmates’ view of the prison social setting and general practices. The inmates’ view of the prison’s official attitude towards them and its implications for the rehabilitation ideals will be examined.

An approach drawing from both quantitative and qualitative methodologies is adopted. The quantitative component – a survey of prisoners – will enables an exploration of prisoners’ use (and non-use) of rehabilitative facilities in prison. The qualitative component – both inmates and prison guards will be interviewed to generate data on how rehabilitation scheme is perceived, experiences of inmates, and how the scheme operates in prisons. Ikoyi prison has a population of 1,835 inmates and it is believed that recidivists will constitute a substantial portion. Data will be obtained from the interned offenders in Ikoyi prison, Lagos State, South West of Nigeria.    


The Nigerian prison facilities are undeniably in a deplorable condition. The Prison Act may have been unable to define the purposes of imprisonment, silent on the crucial service of rehabilitation, and archaic in its concept of revenue generation. The resultant structure is inadequate.

The prisons in Nigeria are currently operating freely, and individual prison facilities lack a management information system that monitors cost effectiveness in prison industries (Omoni and Ijeh, 2009). There is no activity based cost accounting system for prison industries in Nigeria. This has resulted in a lack of financial transparency and precludes any possibility of a cost benefit or a cost effectiveness analysis of any given performance by the industry. Although most of the prisons have facilities that enable inmates engage in vocational training, the working tools are lacking and where there are existing trade and skills acquisition centres within the prison yards, they are either not functioning or unsuitable for some of the inmates who may prefer other trades and educational learning processes that are not existing in the prisons rehabilitation curriculum. In some prisons where they train the detainees on tailoring, there is only one sewing machine to a population of about 300 detainees. Besides not having tools, there are no instructors and workshops for training of the detainees (PrisonWatch, 2000). For example, there are no rehabilitative facilities in existence in Ijebu-Ode prison, except a cane-making workshop and the equipment in the workshop was provided by the Catholic Church through its Justice and Peace Department. The tailoring and wood-carving shops available are not functional (Aminu, 1997: 11). The same thing applies to facilities such as carpentry, knitting, welding and a host of others. Lack of adequate funding appears to be the main reason constraining the Nigeria prison from delivering on its mandate. Consequently, inmates are economically unproductive, physically idle and emotional disturbed (Dambazua, 2007 and Oshodi, 2010).

Accessibility to education and training is becoming increasingly constrained because education centres have a limited capacity, and the massive build-up of prison population has further reduced the availability of education in prisons (Omoni and Ijeh, 2009). As a result, inmates make use of tree shades outside their cells and cellblocks as makeshift classrooms. In prisons such as Shendam, Wase, Lakushi, Agaie, Dekina, Lamingo, MSP Nassarawa, MSP Omu Aran, Kabba, Ankpa, and Idah in the North Central, there are no educational facilities (The National Human Rights Commission, 2012).

Needs assessment and classification of offenders, which are done to ensure offenders experience progress in specific programmes, are rarely carried out by the prison administration at induction due to lack of meaningful programmes. Canton et al., (2011) assert that evaluation of risks (and needs) of offenders should be a component assessed prior to a programme being implemented. The absence of classification of inmates has made it possible for low risk offenders to be influenced into reoffending by the potent anti-social norms of their higher risk peers. This has encouraged inmates to get on one another’s nerves and friction between staff and inmates is quick to develop (Omorotionwman, 2005). Linked to this is the deteriorating ratio of staff to prisoners. This further precludes access to some programmes as a custodial officer needs to be present for the delivery of initiatives such as Vocational Education and Training (VET). In their absence these cannot be provided.

The lack of harmony between prison staff and inmates is a major factor that comes in the way of prison administration in performing their rehabilitative function. This accounts for the culture of fragility and explosive social violence (in the manner of riot) that is re-current and descriptive of Nigerian prison community over the years. In Kuje Prison, for example, a riot which occurred on the 28 March, 2007, resulted in the death of two inmates and left many others injured. Similar circumstances led to at least two other riots in 2007, one in Kano Central Prison on 31 August, 2007 and the other in Ibadan’s Agodi Federal Prison on 11 September 2007, resulting in the death of almost 20 inmates (Davidson and Chiemele, 2012: 1).

The availability of rehabilitative facilities, meaningful programmes and services may not have formed the priority consideration for the board that is responsible for the review of prisoners in Nigeria, but they remain a consideration. As noted by Przybylski (2008), a state of affairs whereby inmates are not provided an opportunity for self-improvement constantly warns of danger to social order, because almost every one of them will eventually return to the community. The result of all this is that inmates come out of prisons harder and more determined to deal a blow at the society that continues to punish them so cruelly. The three problems yearly exacerbate one another: little funds, little reformation, and self-reinforcing spiral of criminality. The result is a vicious cycle: little rehabilitation of prisoners, recycle of criminals, increased prison population, higher cost to tax payers, higher budgetary demands, lesser rehabilitation and higher rate of recidivism (PrisonWatch, 2000: 4). A continuous cycle of crime and punishment, otherwise referred to as recidivism, is thus instituted. Increased level of insecurity frightens away foreign investors, and tourists; and by implication, foreign capital greatly needed for national development is denied the nation. Recidivism contributes to high crime rates which have resulted in loss of lives and property, thereby threatening public peace, safety of lives and national cohesion. Also, criminal activities by such recidivists have made the country unsafe for economic and commercial activities for both local and foreign investors, sometimes, forcing them to relocate to safer climes. With such development, the country had lost billions of Naira which would have been invested in developmental projects that could benefit the Nigerian citizenry. In recent times, imprisonment is anchored on the ‘3Rs’ – “principle of Reformation, Rehabilitation and Re-integration”. However, the increase in the rate of recidivism among prisoners in Nigeria, which has been documented by studies (for example, Wilson, 2009; Soyombo, 2009; Agali, 2004 and Chenube, 2009; Abrifor et al. 2010; National Bureau of Statistics, 2010: 167) calls to question the effectiveness of the Nigerian Prisons Service in its reformatory, rehabilitation and re-integrating function. This was reiterate by the then Controller-General of Prisons that “if the Nigerian Prisons Service does not process these prison inmates and return them unreformed to the society, the society will be in for problems” (Ogundipe, 2006), and this is actually the case in contemporary Nigerian society. As a result, crime by former inmates alone accounts for a substantial share of current and perhaps, future crimes in Nigeria.

Data from the Annual Abstract of the Statistics on inmates in Nigerian prisons indicate that in 2009 alone, a total of 156,351 prisoners were held as repeat offenders (recidivist) (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010: 167). Of the 156,351 prisoners held as repeat offenders, 149,187 were male, while 7,164 were female. A breakdown of the figure shows that 1,159 prisoners were convicted for six times (male 1,121 and female 38), 6,457 prisoners were convicted for five times (males 6,340, and female 117), 15764 prisoners were convicted for four times (male 15,366, and female 398), 20,022 prisoners were convicted three times (male 18,797, and female 1225), 25,582 prisoners were convicted twice (male 23,870, and female 1712), and 30,386 prisoners were convicted once (male 29240, and female 1146); with only 56,981 prisoners as first offenders  (male 544,53, and female 2,528) (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010: 167).

From this background, peace, safety of lives and property are threatened thereby affecting the rate of investment in social and economic growth and developmental processes. Nigeria, as nation-state, deserves a criminal justice system it can be proud of. Thus, it becomes imperative to examine the declining facilities in Ikoyi prison, South West of Nigerian and accompanying challenges on rehabilitation of offenders.


This study is aimed at investigating how declining prison facilities impede the rehabilitation of offenders, using Ikoyi prison, in Lagos State, South West of Nigeria, as the study location. It is believed that the outcome of this inquiry will invoke a programme of action, which will be adopted to improve funding of prisons and services, so as to facilitate offender rehabilitation, and catalyze re-integration when discharged. These will serve additive values to national security and development. In view of this, the research will be guided by the following objectives:

1.         To find out if there is a correlation between needs assessment and classification of offenders and their progress in rehabilitation process.

2.         To find out if there is a correlation between participation of inmates in vocational education and training and reoffending.

3.         To find out if inmates tortured by prison officers are more likely to be driven toward collective action.

4.         To find out if there is a relationship between improved prison industry and creation of jobs opportunities for inmates.


To achieve the above-stated objectives, the study will provide answer to the following research questions:

1.      Is there a correlation between needs assessment and classification of offenders and their progress in the rehabilitation process?

2.      Are offenders, who participated in vocational education and training programmes while in prison, more likely to reoffend, either in prison or after their release?

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