Police cells in Sierra Leone are poorly equipped and often almost uninhabitable. Correctional Centres are slightly better, but women can be imprisoned for years on end with poor access to sanitary items and appropriate medication, and many do not receive visits from family members at all. AdvocAid seeks to allow women to preserve their dignity and obtain new skills while in detention by providing education, counselling and welfare support.
In 2014, one third of Sierra Leone's female inmates had never been to school, and 83% earned less than $1 a day. This mix of poverty and illiteracy is a key reason women commit crimes, yet there are few rehabilitation programmes for inmates. Sierra Leone's detention facilities are often dark, cramped and unsanitary and the correctional centres lack necessities like medicine, toiletries and nutritious food. They also don't have budgets for supporting children imprisoned with their mothers.
AdvocAid and our partner, EducAid, will run literacy and numeracy classes for female inmates. If we raise enough funds, we will also provide skills training to increase their chances of finding employment upon release. We monitor the conditions in detention facilities, and our social worker provides welfare packages with sanitary items, medicine and clothing as well as counselling services and family tracing to reduce the negative impact of incarceration on women and their children.
AdvocAid believes that women should be able to grow and prosper during their time in prison, so they can be more active and productive citizens once released. Denying women this opportunity increases the risk of them being ostracised from their community and further impoverished when they leave prison. Our detainee support programme helps inmates to stay motivated and become more confident while equipping them with vital life skills, which offer them a chance of a brighter future.