Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Women in Prison and Their Information Needs: South – South Prison Libraries Perspective

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Women in Prison and Their Information Needs: South – South Prison Libraries Perspective

Article excerpt


Prisoners are people who are incarcerated in prisons and denied freedom of movement due to crimes they have committed. In most countries around the world, the majority of individuals who make up the prison and jail population have limited education and life skills and do not come from a background where reading is carried out (IFLA, 2005). In the Nigerian context, prison inmates are made up of convicted persons who are sentenced to serve various terms for crimes committed, and often a larger number of Awaiting Trial Persons (ATP), who may spend many years in this condition (Amnesty International 2008). The fact that the prisoners are incarcerated restricts them from free movement and a full social life. Most importantly, they are restricted in getting information from the outside world.

Every individual requires one form of information or the other to satisfy an information need. Women inmates are individuals who have been cut off from their local environment and kept in custody as a result of crimes committed and separated from the larger society. Whether or not inmates are on short or long term jail, rehabilitation and reformation is a necessity in the Nigerian prison sector. Prison libraries provide an important means of self-improvement for inmates. They act as a supplement to educational programs and lead to better work opportunity which in turn creates more stable and productive citizens. Oreh (2006) rightly observed that education in prison is necessary because its provision will make the prisons become places of continuous and informal learning rather than schools of crimes.

Bastick and Townhead (2008) argue that women prisoners are discriminated against as compared to male prisoners in almost every aspect of prison life including decisions as to pre-trial detention, opportunities for education and employment and healthcare Information needs of prisoners are information that are wanted or desired, despite the fact that the information needs of inmates vary. Prisoners have the same information needs as persons in the regular society. The relevance of information need for the prison population has been documented in several literatures Burt (1977), Campbell (2005), and Medina (2000) as quoted by Emasealu (2010) described the information needs of inmates to be information on health related issues, information on how to find solution to situational problems, information on educational opportunities, information on how to cope in prison and psychological information needs. Incarcerated persons have the same reading interest and information needs like other citizens in the society.

Presently, there is no study on prisoner's women and their information needs in South- South Prison Libraries, Nigeria, thus the need to carry out this study to gather a broad insight on the needs of the women in prison with a view to contributing to the wealth of knowledge, literature and to improving their condition, identify the challenges they face while meeting their needs and proffer possible solutions to them. Finally, findings on prisoner women in prison can be used to guide the formulation of comprehensive prison reform in generally and intervention programs for women and men in South-South Prison.

Objectives of the Study

This study sought to establish ways of enhancing the information needs of the women in prison. To attain this goal, the study stipulated the following objectives:

1. To determine the information needs of the women in prison

2. To examine the condition of the South-South prison libraries.

3. To know the extent to which the South-South prison libraries are meeting the information needs of the prisoners women

4. To establish the challenges confronting women in prison

Research Questions

For the purpose of this research, the following questions have been formulated:

1. What are the information needs of the women in prison?

2. What are the condition of the South-South Prison Libraries? …

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