The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Wednesday officially opened its first-ever Female Open Prison in Marondera.

The prison was opened with 30 female inmates and it is estimated that it will accommodate 500 prisoners once fully operational.

Inmates at an open prison are allowed to go on home visits and spend time with their family members.

They are also given opportunities to engage in various rehabilitation activities and programmes in a less restrictive environment.

The development comes amid calls for the government to improve the standards of rehabilitation facilities that are currently overcrowded.

Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com on the sidelines of the official opening of the female prison in Marondera, Deputy Commissioner-General responsible for correctional services Granisia Musango:

_The open prison system is one aspect of the correctional services as we reintegrate an inmate. In a closed prison, they have all their rights, but the freedom is limited. At an open prison they go unescorted.

_There is no security surveillance, so if an inmate is given the freedom to that level, they are motivated. There is hope and it’s actually a responsibility that if they manage to go through that, they can reform because it’s a process of reformation.

Musango said inmates are considered for incarceration at an open prison for a number of reasons including good behaviour and contact of the family. She added:

_So we would want the families to be there to support and for the offended to also foster forgiveness. The inmate should also have served in a closed prison for a certain period. We also consider those who are about to finish their sentences.

Superintendent Fanuel Takaza, the ZPCS rehabilitation officer said the open prison facility was a unique system where the offender has some privileges although there are limitations.

The idea of an open prison got Cabinet approval in 1996 and the first inmates at Connemara were incarcerated in 2000.

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