Community service reduced crime recurrence by 50%, Lagos AG says

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The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN), has said that statistics showed that community-based sentences reduced re-offending rates in the state by at least 50 per cent, proving the efficacy of the alternative measures. The AG disclosed this at the inaugural edition of the Stakeholders Forum on Community Service and Non-Custodial Measures held in Ikeja, Lagos. He emphasised the need to ensure that individuals, who did not necessarily need to be incarcerated for punishment could still be held accountable in a manner that allowed them to remain productive members of society. He noted the importance of non-custodial measures such as community service, suspended sentencing and parole. Pedro added that the measures help in reducing re-offending rates and alleviate overcrowded correctional facilities. He highlighted the merits of actively involving the community in the justice process, adding that it fosters a sense of restitution and reconciliation. “The forum’s timing is significant, coinciding with recent constitutional amendments empowering states to own, manage, and operate correctional facilities. “Our experience has taught us that the landscape of criminal justice is evolving and we must adopt our methods to better serve both justice and society. “These examples provide a roadmap for Lagos State to implement similar strategies, in line with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s plans, which focus on security, governance and social inclusion,” he emphasised. He said that the forum marked a critical milestone in the journey towards a more equitable and compassionate criminal justice system in Lagos, setting the stage for future reforms and collaborations aimed at enhancing community well-being and justice. The guest speaker, who is an Associate Professor of Law, University of Lagos, Dr Akeem Bello, in his address called for the institutionalisation of community service. He said that mainstreaming community service into the state is one of the ways to make community service work. Bello spoke on “Community Service, Pathway To Improved Security, Human Development And Economic Growth In Lagos State.” He said that 17 years after the community service came to being in Lagos, it has not been very effective, urging that there is a need to keep championing the cause. In her welcome address, the Director of the Community Service Unit Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs Tomi Bodude, said that the community service and other non-custodial measures marked a pivotal moment as stakeholders explored innovative approaches to fostering rehabilitation, promoting justice and enhancing community well-being. According to Bodude, the forum aimed at shifting the focus from retribution to rehabilitation, emphasising community integration over isolation. The representative of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) programme, Mrs Ajibola Ijimakinwa, in her goodwill message, said that non-custodial measures were not being utilised optimally given the size of the Nigerian Correctional Service and the prison population. She said ROLAC hoped to continue to support the process to deepen non-custodial measures, including rehabilitation, reintegration, and diversion programmes, or introduce them where they do not exist. The post Community service reduced crime recurrence by 50%, Lagos AG says appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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