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Published On: Fri, Jun 16th, 2023

BKF Frees 16 Inmates From Mile 2 Prison

Sixteen inmates, one female and fifteen males on Thursday were  released from Mile 2 State Central Prison following payment of their fines by Bob Keita Foundation (BKF).

The inmates, who were serving sentences on minor offenses, were reunited with their families and loved ones as their fines were paid for by the Foundation.

Babucarr Keita the founder and president of BKF, and former inmate at the prison outlined the motive behind the initiative.

“I was in prison for two years and I have seen the conditions that inmates were going through. One day, a young prisoner came to me and told me that he needed one thousand dalasi to pay so that he could be released. I told him straight that he will go home that day because I would pay the one thousand. He (the prisoner) told me that our crimes were different as his own was a minor crime and if he paid the one thousand dalasis he would be released. I called my family and they paid, so the boy was released,” Babucarr Keita told inmates at the Mile 2 Prison.

Mr Keita added that since that day he vowed to bring an initiative to support pay for inmates with minor offenses for which fines are imposed by the courts.

“The prison should help to reform people, but if you look at our system, it is very bad. What you see outside the prison is small; if you get inside you will be traumatized because it is very bad,” he added.

Mamanding Saidy, a representative from the Ministry of Interior, said the event is worth emulating.

“This is a great initiative and it is the first time a former prisoner is coming to us with such. We all know that the prison is a place where nobody wants to come, but who knows we might find ourselves here any day. In life, you will either go to prison or you are safe at home, you will either live or die,” he explained.

He called on the inmates who are released to thank Allah and the BK Foundation for their release and work towards changing their lives.

Odile Jassey, Pupil State Counsel, who represented the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), reminded the released inmates not to fall again in what led them to the prison.

She said: “It is in the interest of the public to try alleged persons and it is also not in the interest of the public to have alleged persons not tried. This is why anyone who is accused is tried and if the law finds the person not guilty, he/she will be released.”

She told the 16 inmates that they should put in mind that they have already tested the prison, adding that they should stay away from anything that will likely bring them back to prison.

Alagie Jarju, executive director of National Youth Council, thanked the BK Foundation for coming up with the initiative.

“I’m not sure most Gambians are into such initiatives, supporting prisoners [convicted] for minor crimes. You need to work hard to ensure that what led you into the prison doesn’t happen again,” he told inmates.

He expressed the Ministry’s willingness to support the young inmates in the transition process to be reintegrated back into society.

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