Rwanda Prisons to Acquire Public Telephones for Inmates

PhoneRwanda Correctional Services (RCS) is set to introduce public telephones in 13 penitentiary facilities around the country in order to facilitate inmates to communicate with their family members

The move is also aimed at ending smuggled phones in cells, officials say.

According the Chief Inspector of Prisons, and RCS Spokesperson, Hillary Sengabo– prison authorities are in the process of hiring a telecommunication firm to work with to help install user friendly public telephones.

“Depending on a given reason by an inmate, sometimes we allow them to use cell phones to communicate with the outside world. But, the practice is not secure enough and not trustworthy,” he told The New Times.

Sengabo added that prison authorities have been seizing smuggled cell phones from inmates. The phones are usually smuggled in cells by people who visit the prisoners, he said.

“A prisoner must not feel free to use a telephone as they wish. There are rules to follow. When public telephones are installed, prisoners will get access to them but must be supervised… so, they will not be allowed to talk about anything that can offended the public security or (discuss) politics,” Sengabo added.

“Our social service departments that will take care of the procedures and help inmate keep their money. Some will need to use it as airtime to talk to their families or follow up on business. One might also want to talk to a lover they left back home. We also thought of their visitors who reside far in foreign countries that often visit their relatives once in five years. Prisoners will be able to call such people,” Sengabo says.

RCS says that the project will be a sustainable solution to the communication needs of the inmates and the outside world. But he did not state when the phones will be in place.