Hope for Children of Jailed Persons

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By Tariro Moyo and Tendai Munhazu | Children of incarcerated persons have found hope through the intervention of Access to Justice, a newly established organization that seeks to provide them with social, legal and humanitarian support.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Blessing Mtandwa, the Executive Director of the organization said they came up with the idea after realizing that children of incarcerated persons were living under pathetic conditions in the absence of their parents.

“We visited the Chikurubi Maximum prison, as part of our research and found out that 96% of the people there, are parents who left at least three children back home, meaning that those children need assistance,” said Mtandwa.

She added that there is need to give humanitarian aid for children who go along with their incarcerated parents since there is no constitutional provisions on infants’ welfare after their parents gets incarcerated.

‘’Children and families with incarcerated parents have been a relatively invisible population to the public, to policymakers, and to funders.

“Programs and policies, which have traditionally focused on the offender, his or her victims, and the public safety of the community, ignore the vast and growing number of other victims–children.”

“In prisons there is no food for kids who got there with their parents and the conditions in prisons are too dangerous for the health of kids.

“So there is need for policies that will help these children, for example build a shelter where they can stay with adequate care, but have an opportunity of seeing their mothers,” said Mtandwa.

Zimbabwe’s prison population is estimated at around 22 500 inmates in all the 55 prisons against a carrying capacity of 17 000. Human rights groups in Zimbabwe claim that lack of food, insufficient access to medical care, absence of clothing and lack of legal assistance are common realities in Zimbabwean prisons.

PIC CAPTION- Blessing Mtandwa, Executive Director of Access to Justice

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