When I read in a local daily of how the government was planning to increase the pay for prisoners who provide labour on both private and government projects, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, my jubilation lasted only a second when I realized that the pay raise the government was revising was from 500/= to 1000/= per day.
It was revealed that according to what was signed by the ministry of Internal Affairs in 2000, skilled labour is paid 500/= per day, semi skilled laborers get 200/= while the unskilled ones get 100/=.
While I know that when it comes to prosperity, the first rule is to never underestimate the value of money, on the other hand I think the prisoners’ remuneration is abit unjust when you relate it with the kind of labour that they give.
For God’s sake, these are human beings and not oxen we are talking about. However much they are being punished for the crimes that they commited, it’s unjust to burden them with hard labour with little next to no pay.
I have had an opportunity to watch these people work and it’s really not a child’s play in the field. They usually work the whole day with no food or water to sustain their strength and canes at their back if they are slow. And yet they are working for people or organizations including the government who are going to earn millions of money.
Because of this hard labour, many prisoners don’t survive to complete their sentences and others are released with chronic diseases, mental disorders and other physical disabilities that waste their lives.
If you so care about the prisoners’ needs and their future after prison, I suggest you make a better offer for the hard and dangerous work that they do. Despite the fact that they are prisoners under punishment, they are still human beings who deserve better.