Sunday, 15 July 2007

Monrovia Central Prison

On Saturday I visited Monrovia Central Prison. It was the worse place I have ever been. Conditions are horrific. Up to 16 prisoners sleep in cells 7 foot long by 8 foot wide on the bare concrete floor - they have to take it in turns to lie down to sleep. They only have one meal of maize a day, which is insufficient to keep them strong. There is no running water or toilets in the prison building - they must wait until midday to use the latrines in the yard, or use stinking and overflowing buckets in their cells, and nearly everyone has diarrhea. They have no toilet paper, no soap, no toothbrushes or toothpaste and no medicine. Of the 73 prisoners, only 6 have received a trial - the other 67 are awaiting trial, and some have been waiting for over 3 years so far. Many of them were arrested and put into the prison without their families being informed, and I came away with a list of people to phone to tell them that their sons and brothers are in jail. The majority are guilty of "debtors" crimes, and they could be released immediately if someone paid off their debts. I prayed with a small group of men, for their freedom and that they will be able to use their time in jail positively - maybe learn to read and write, or help other to do so. Many other men thought I could help them gain freedom - they thought I had come to pay their debts or obtain a pardon from the authorities...after only an hour of being inside I was so overwhelmed by the atmosphere and had to ask to be let out into the fresh air...Now I know what Jesus meant when he talked about freedom for the prisoners...I guess Monrovia Central Prison in 2007 is very similar to the Roman prisons of 30 AD. Olly

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