“Saying Sorry”: 260 Prisoners Sign Up for Plea Bargain

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At least 260 prisoners in the Ugandan district of Masindi have registered for the Judiciary’s plea bargain program ahead of this year’s “prison camp” in that district, the Judiciary said on Monday.

Of these 260 prisoners, 200 are being held on allegations of capital crimes, 49 on petty criminal offenses and 11 are children offenders.

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The Principal Judge and Head of the High Court of Uganda, Justice Flavian Zeija launched the camp at Masindi Main Prison in a ceremony attended by Justice Actors including the Director of Public Prosecutions Justice Jane Frances Abodo, criminal suspects, and law students from Uganda Christian University and the California-based Pepperdine University.

Justice Flavian Zeija urged participants in the plea bargain process to adhere to the rules governing the program.

“ I appeal to all participants including the Judicial officers, the prosecution, the defence team and the registered inmates to conform to the rules that govern the plea bargain process taking into consideration the interests of all parties involved including victims.”

Justice Flavian Zeija said.

“Plea bargaining should not be used merely as a handshake.”

He added.

Plea Bargaining is a program of the Judiciary of Uganda under which people accused of a crime voluntarily enter into deals with the Prosecution side by accepting they are guilty of the crime in exchange for a lenient sentence.

According to the Principal Judge, Justice Flavian Zeija, Plea Bargain is a “case backlog reduction intervention and strategy that the Judiciary developed and has been implementing since the year 2014.”  

Boosting Conviction Rate

According to Uganda Prisons, Plea Bargain has in the previous years boosted conviction rates which means fewer people are being held in Prison on remand.

“ We have a total of 74,484 inmates countrywide and the majority are now convicts.”

  Said Commissioner of Police Asinjah Apollo Baker, in charge of Custodial Sentences who represented the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons.

“That is what we want. With more interventions, this will continue and the decongestion in our prisons will continue to reduce.”

He added.

In her remarks, DPP Justice Frances Abodo echoed the notion that a plea bargain is an initiative all accused persons can benefit from.

“ Plea Bargain is an opportunity for those who know that they committed an offense to have the opportunity to say sorry and reform.” She said.

Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.

Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.

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