GOVERNMENT should modernize all prisons in Zambia to better living conditions of inmates, says Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCA) executive director Geoffrey Malembeka.
Mr Malembeka said there was need for dialogue and partnership between the Government and civil society if prisons were to be improved.
He said most of the prisons in Zambia were in a deplorable state, adding that inmates needed to have their rights respected.
He said the prisons in Zambia were not up to standard owing to almost all the 55 major prisons were built during the colonial rule and have remained so to date.
He attributed the congestion in Zambia prisons to lack of adequate funding from Government and the absence of integration.
“It is sad that over 18,600 citizens are incarcerated in these prisons and of which only about 5,000 plus are waiting trial, unlike in other countries like Malawi which has 95 percent of convicts in prison with only 5 percent awaiting trial,” he said.
Mr Malembeka hoped that the Government would soon respond to the challenges faced by prisons in Zambia.
He called on Government to decentralize the criminal justice system to improve on the disposal of cases, adding that only Copperbelt, Central, Southern and Lusaka provinces had permanent resident judges.
Mr Malembeka also called on Government to amend the Service Commission Act which hindered people in prisons from participating in elections.