Prison workers learn to handle violence

21 Dec 2011

Prison workers learn to handle violence

16 December 2011 – How to deal with unruly or violent prisoners was the focus of an eight-day training course for Central Equatoria State prison staff that ended today with a graduation ceremony in the capital Juba.

Held by the National Prison Service of South Sudan, the Critical Incident Management (CIM) course was taught to 42 staff for the first time by its own instructors, mentored by UNMISS Corrections Advisors.

Addressing the gathering at Prison Service Headquarters, Central Equatoria State Director of Prisons Gen. Andriano Long emphasized the need for prison officers to act professionally and humanely with prisoners in their charge.

"It is the duty of all prison staff to treat prisoners well and in line with international standards,' Gen. Long said. "Things are going to change (in South Sudan) and we need to be ready to deal with international criminals and difficult prisoners of our own."

Also present at the graduation were Director General of Prisons Gen. Abel Makoi Wol, Director of Juba Prison Gen. Manyan, and UNMISS Corrections Advisors Steve Cox and Chad Guinther.

During the course, Lt Col. Juma Athieu Bol, Director of Prison Security, led the five prison service instructors in training staff (10 women and 32 men) selected from Juba Prison and Prison Service Headquarters.

The instructors and coordinators will return to their respective states to train 50 prison officers each in the use of riot protective personal gear with UNMISS assistance. Donors have supplied 750 sets of the equipment, with a request that UNMISS CAS train staff before the gear is issued.

"It is hoped that the teams will not be called on to use this training, but inevitably in prisons there are some who do not wish to cooperate, want to escape or cause disruptions to the prison regime," said UNMISS Corrections Officer Cox.

Instructors replicated real incidents in the course, with some students acting as violent or non-compliant prisoners and others throwing missiles and attacking them with makeshift weapons. Some were non-violent but refused to comply with orders, while others wanted to surrender.

The teams had to correctly deal with each category of prisoner, either using force when necessary or allowing prisoners to be arrested without it.

"These staff are now well trained and equipped to deal with these incidents, using the minimum force and adhering to international standards," Mr. Cox added.

UNMISS Corrections Advisors have spent two years training 20 instructors and 10 state coordinators in techniques and skills for managing difficult, refractory and violent prisoners.

The mission's Corrections Advisory Section, part of its Rule of Law, Security Institutions Support Office, is mandated to assist South Sudan's prison service in capacity building of its staff.