To address congestion in prisons, Speaker Anita Among has called on lawmakers to prioritize the improvement of facilities by allocating sufficient funds in the 2023/2024 financial year budget.
Among, presiding over the House on Thursday, November 16, 2023, stated that the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons informed her that out of every 100,000 Ugandans, 168 end up in prison.
“All the prisons are full; they have no space. As we budget, we should be able to think about infrastructure in prisons, not only Luzira but countrywide,” she said.
However, Hon. James Kaberuka (NRM, Kinkizi County West) emphasized the need to address the high unemployment of youths, noting that the majority of prisoners are youths forced into criminal activities.
“In addition to amplifying infrastructure improvement, there is a need to critically analyze how we can have the youth being busy in productive activities, locally and internationally. It is a political issue, but if we continue looking at it as normal, then we are going to have criminality increasing,” Kaberuka said.
He also suggested empowering youths after they are skilled under the Skilling Uganda program.
“The influx of youths from villages to Kampala hoping to have a remedy is futile. We need to have the youths engaged,” he said.
Busia Municipality Member of Parliament, Hon. Geofrey Macho, welcomed the need to improve prison infrastructure but said the government should create an enabling environment for youths to own and sustain small and medium enterprises, keeping them away from engaging in crime.
“Most of the small businesses are operated by foreigners, denying our young people opportunities, and they end up committing crimes since they do not have what to do,” Macho said.
Hon. Felix Okot Ogong (NRM, Dokolo South County) decried the appalling state of prison facilities and acknowledged the need to improve them but suggested the establishment of a bank for youths to tackle the high crime rate.
He recounted a proposal he made while Minister of Youth in 2006.
“As a minister, I came up with 52 cheap enterprises that do not require a lot of money, and we proposed that with those enterprises we get a youth bank because they do not have enough collateral and it was viable,” he said.
The Minister of State for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives (Industry), Hon. David Bahati, mentioned that several measures have been put in place to address youth unemployment, including the commercialization of agriculture, industrialization, and the service sector.
“As we pass policies, we should focus on these strategic areas because they are key in creating jobs and the growth of the economy,” he said.