Waiting for Justice in Uganda's Luzira Maximum Security Prison
Luzira Men's and Women's Maximum Security Prison is the second largest prison in Uganda, there is nothing routine about a court appearance or a sentencing hearing at Luzira.
According to the ministry of justice, the number of imprisonment cases that are yet to be heard stands at more than 40,000, some 32,000 on legal custody in prison and the rest on bail. The majority of these cases are offences such murder, treason, terrorism, rape and aggravated robbery, crimes which carry either an optional or mandatory death penalty, and which can only be tried by the High Court.
In Uganda some are awaiting trial while legislation in Uganda proposes the death penalty for gay people, aggravated homosexuality, and imprisonment for families who fail to report their gay relatives to the police within 24 hours of finding out about their sexuality. In many African countries those imprisoned for being in debt are made to pay rent to the prisons.
Murchison Bay wing houses the male prisoners in cramped living quarters, sometimes inmates sleep outside because there is not enough room to sleep inside. Carpentry programs are the most popular programs, along with the Condemned Choir of Luzira Prison which is made up of inmates on death row.
If prisoners give birth in prison or were breastfeeding when sentenced, the babies stay with their mothers until the age of 2 then they are taken to a daycare on the prison property and visit their mothers each Sunday. After the age of 4 the children are relocated off prison grounds to a children’s home, The Family of Africa, awaiting release of their mothers.
The choir at Luzira women’s prison has many members who have been sentenced to death. Tumuhirwe Jolly a 22 year old former maid is in Luzira Prison, on December 8, 2014 she was sentenced to 4 years in prison for the severe battery of a child. The baby recovered from her psychical injuries and is happy and healthy living with her parents.
Struck by the living conditions of the prisoners, Africa Prisons Project, APP continues working closely with prison administrators, prison staff and the prisoners themselves to identify their needs. To date APP has touched the lives of over 25,000 prison inmates and staff in Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.