There are about 20,000 prisoners locked up in facilities around the country. Uganda Prisons Service is known worldwide for recording the least number of re-offending cases, and ranks number one in Africa.
It means their rehabilitation process is effective and they have opened channels for interested parties to initiate rehabilitative programs within the walls.
One such organization is #UgandaReading – that has established clubs in the Luzira prisons complex to allow inmates read, it`s one way to inspire the behavior of reading.
“I thought Uganda Prisons is one place where people might find it useful to just be able to read. So giving them the opportunity to read by providing material and also encouraging people to read when they have material but some people may not be able to read, we want to be able to promote that”, says RaziahAthman, the founder of the movement.
Good for the jailers here, it`s not just about reading, it`s a strong rehabilitative tool they have adopted, to help correct the thousands of convicts.
Celestine Twesigye, the officer in charge at the Luzira Maximum Security Prison says, on the prisoners’ part, they are actually very inquisitive, they are eager to know and that makes them better readers. They have that motivation it`s in them and you don`t need to cultivate it. What they only need are the materials and the reading will be there”
They say if you want to hide anything from an African, hide it in a book… but that is the opposite in this prisons complex.
Inside Luzira Upper/Maximum Security Prison, with 3214 inmates, you hide something in a book, be sure, it will be found!
That`s the level of craving for material to read in these prisons. Teddy SseziCheeye, convicted over global funds saga, is one of the ardent readers and has spent most of his time in prison reading books… he even has a well-furnished library in his cell.
#UgandaReadingCheeye says can help get people to the age of enlightenment, and he has pledged to lead the club for the few remaining months he is serving.
He will work with other inmates who are already enthusiasts of the new reading club.
The #UgandaReading team then headed to the Murchison Bay prison where 2,253 are serving their sentences.
And later, they visited the Women`s section that has 511 prisoners.
NakanwagiBarbra who is serving 17 years for aggravated robbery and Arinaitwe Eunice 11 years for murder, will lead the club.
Every month, #UgandaReading will have a Ugandan author, whose book is being read for the month`s challenge, meet the inmates as a way of motivating readership and supporting African literature.
And the prisons service now wants #UgandaReading to be taken to five other facilities in the country including the prisons in Kigo and Gulu.
There is already an education programme in Uganda Prisons… with the clubs now existent; inmates will be encouraged to read more for enlightenment, leisure and rehabilitation.