The African Prisons Project (APP) is an organization that works alongside prisoners in Africa in order to improve prison conditions, assist with legal counsel and educate inmates.
The African Prisons Project was founded in 2007. The organization works with both prisoners and prison staff in order to create a more humane and rehabilitation based approach to incarceration. The group focuses its work on four areas: leadership, access to health, life skills and access to justice.
The APP provides leadership training through its legal education program with the University of London. This is extremely useful to prisoners who are unable to afford legal representation. It has empowered many prisoners to work on their own cases and that of their fellow inmates.
The APP works to improve prison healthcare by providing classes on healthcare, offering clinical services and building health infrastructure. The group also provides human rights training to prisoners and prison staff in order to inform and empower both prisoners and staff members to protect human rights. In addition, the organization also works to facilitate dialogue between the officials and policy-makers who legislate prisons, and the staff and prisoners who are affected by these policies.
Their work is extremely helpful to inmates all across Africa, many of whom would never see a lawyer without it. Most prisons in Africa are 300% full, which leads to the spread of diseases and inevitable human rights violations. The APP’s work across these fields seeks to minimize these risks and other risks to prisoners. In Uganda, 11.3% of all prisoners are HIV positive. This is almost twice the national rate, and it makes the healthcare work that the APP does even more necessary.
The education that the group provides is also extremely valuable. At APP targeted prisons, 67.3% of all inmates are illiterate. Of these prisoners, four out of five cannot afford a lawyer. In Uganda and Kenya, this rate is 90%, and it is common for inmates to wait a decade for a trial.
The APP has made great strides in providing protection and education to these inmates. Their rehabilitative approach has been acknowledged by the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Summit, and the group hosted the first-ever TEDx conference to take place inside a prison in Africa. The group has succeeded in overturning 57 convictions, 12 death sentences and gotten 298 cases dismissed.
When they cannot get a conviction overturned, the APP finds other ways to improve prisoners’ lives. Sometimes, this is through a legal education. Other times, they help by providing musical instruments to prisoners or recording a CD for inmates on death row. The African Prisons Project embraces many different roles in their efforts to create a more rehabilitative approach to incarceration in Africa.
– Eva Kennedy