Nine people who have been languishing in prison on minor offences for over one year have been released in Bong County without trial.
According to local officials, the detainees regained their freedom under a probational program which serves as an alternative sentence for detainees held on minor offences. They were held on crimes ranging from property theft and petit pilfering to illegal possession of dangerous drugs and misapplication of entrusted property.
The Justice Ministry recently reactivated the program to help reduce over crowdedness at the Gbarnga Central Prison, its supervisor, Abraham Cooper, told our correspondent in Gbarnga.
He said the release of the nine suspects became necessary when he sought a petition with the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Bong County for17 pretrial detainees. Other inmates are expected to be released under the program after a pre-sentence investigation - designed to determine whether they should make restitution for their acts - has been conducted.
Under the program, he said, relatives of each of the released persons signed a deal promising to monitor the activities of the released men to ensure that they do not commit any more crimes. The freed men will also make restitution for what they were detained for, benefit from a skill training scheme to become useful citizens and provide community services as part of their integration process in the society.
23-year old Winston Flomo of Salala District is the youngest among them. Explaining his ordeal, said he spent 14 months in jail for failing to refund a loan of LD$1,000 to a lady. “Thank God I am receiving fresh air today through the help of the probation program,” Winston said, beaming with smiles.
According to the probation supervisor in Bong County, there are about 39 such cases awaiting reconsideration.