The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, Monday, made a case for the effective use of non-custodial sentencing by Judges and Magistrates in the country.
The, who said that the 2015 Administration of Criminal Justice Act gives priority to non-custodial sentences, noted that there are guidelines that state the requirements and procedure for imposing non-custodial sentencing to prevent abuse.
Fagbemi spoke at the workshop on the implementation of the Non-Custodial Measures and Sentencing Guidelines under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in Abuja on Monday.
The AGF, who represented by the Director of Administration of Criminal Justice and Reforms Department/Correctional Unit, Federal Ministry of Justice, Latricia Ayoola-Daniels, further noted that the purpose of non-custodial measures is to find effective alternatives to imprisonment for offenders.
He added that countries of the world are shifting attention from sentencing offenders to prisons to non-custodial centres.
He said: “The Administration of Criminal Justice Act was enacted and came into force on May 13, 2015. The Act placed a premium on non-custodial sentences. In line with ACJA 2015, the Federal Government has set out guidelines to stipulate the requirements and procedure for imposing Non-Custodial sentencing to ensure reasonable uniformity and fairness in the imposition of sentences.
“To facilitate the application and effective use of the non-custodial sentencing, the legal and regulatory framework must be effectively implemented. The purpose of non-custodial measures is to find effective alternatives to imprisonment for offenders. This is in accordance with the current global shift in punishing convicts with alternatives to prison terms.”
According to Fagbemi, locking up minor offenders in prison has increased the population of awaiting trial inmates, adding that the process has made it difficult to reform these offenders.
He said: “Today we have seen countless cases where defendants are arrested for minor offences and locked up in prisons adding to the population of awaiting trial inmates. These offenders remanded with hardened criminals end up being initiated into a life of crime instead of being reformed.”