ZWEDRU, Grand Gedeh – A Bush Chicken investigation has uncovered that Grand Gedeh’s National Palace of Correction is facing a shortage of food to feed the 290 inmates at the facility.
After a tip about the conditions of the facility, The Bush Chicken secretly gained access to the prison on August 29, where the investigation revealed that the inmates who were previously fed meals twice a day were now only receiving meals irregularly.
For inmates without family members in the county, the impact is even worse, as they have no one to provide extra food to supplement the limited supply at the prison.
The inmates grow crops such as eggplants, peppers, okra, and other vegetables, but not rice.
The prison is also facing significant issues in addition to the food crisis. While parts of Grand Gedeh, Nimba, and Maryland benefit from electricity from neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, the prison has no access to electricity and turns completely dark at night. Officers at the prison were seen using the flashlight functions on their mobile phones as lights.
Individuals at the prison reported that the prison has been in darkness since 2018. Prior to that, a 3.5 kva generator was used to power the facility, but it is no longer operational due to the lack of fuel.
Recently, a heavy storm in the area affected the roof of one of the buildings at the correction palace compound.
The Bush Chicken reached out to Maude Somah, the director for public affairs at the Justice Ministry about the conditions at the prison, but received no response.
The U.S. State Department’s 2018 human rights report on Liberia noted that the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which operates prisons across the country, “reported that poor road conditions during the rainy season frequently delayed food delivery in the southeast, during which time prison superintendents supplemented normal rations with locally grown food and donations from family and friends of inmates.”
Even absent the current harsh economic climate that has seen government workers go without pay for several months, prison conditions have always been “harsh and at times life-threatening,” the U.S. government report said.
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