The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR), was established by law in 1969. According to the Criminal Procedure Law (1969-70) the Division of Corrections is composed of three administrative sub-divisions namely Bureau of Correctional Institutions, Bureau of Probation and the Board of Parole, all of which are within the Ministry of Justice. Legislation in 2010 and 2012 provided for the Bureau of Probation & Parole and the Board of Parole, respectively.
Previously, the Division of Corrections operated under military control until 1976 when Assistant Minister Cllr. Fredrick Houngbeji, who had a vision to professionalize Corrections, was appointed. The professionalising of the Division of Corrections was thwarted by the 1980 Coup d’?at, leading to deterioration of prison conditions, which was aggravated in 1989 when the war broke out. Prison facilities that existed were overrun by different warring factions who looted them, converting some to house their members. Prisoners were set free by these factions and corrections staff fled the facilities for safety.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of August 2003 required a broader range of restructuring and training initiatives to build the capacities of the rule of law institutions and, in particular, to give them professional orientation, focusing on democratic values, respect for human rights and good governance. Collective efforts were made to re-establish and empower these institutions to meet the needs of the people, while providing services which meet international standards. In an attempt to improve the National Development Agenda, the corrections component has been incorporated in various national development strategies including the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Agenda for Transformation. Revamping correctional services in this endeavour is essential in building the capacity of the institution. This will enable the corrections system to provide rehabilitation programs in a safe, secure and humane manner for successful reintegration of offenders and contribute to the protection of the society.
Considerable work is being done in the following areas: recruitment and training of corrections officers; refurbishment and building of new prison facilities; human resource capacity development; the establishment of Probation and Parole and the Parole Board. The Government will continue to improve corrections system that responds to the needs of the society as envisaged in the current five-year strategic plan. Corrections is one of the three cardinal components of the Criminal Justice System including, the Police and Courts. As such, the Division of Corrections is an important institution within the Rule of Law Pillar of the national development strategy, contributing to the maintenance of secure and safe environment.
Current BCR structure
The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) is led by an Assistant Minister. There is a Director of Prisons who is responsible for all prison administration. The Director of Prisons is assisted by a Deputy Director supported by Assistant Directors for administration and operations. Other senior staff include Coordinator of Prisons, Prisons Advisor and Prison Superintendents. Individual facilities are headed by Superintendents while the National Palace of Corrections in Zwedru is headed by a Director. Meanwhile, all prison heads report to the office of the Director of Prisons. Corrections Officers are supervised by the Superintendents. The Bureau also has Probation and Parole headed by the Probation Coordinator who is assisted by National Supervisors and County Supervisors.
Statutory Mandate for the Division of Corrections
The BCR mandate as contained in the Criminal Procedure Law of 1969, Part IV Chapter 41 stipulates that:
”There is created in the Department of Justice a Division of Corrections, which shall be charged with the following responsibilities:
(a) To establish, maintain, and administer all correctional institutions in the Republic, including prisons, reformatories, parole and probation hostels, work camps, local jails, and such other facilities as may be required for the custody, detention, control, correctional treatment, and rehabilitation of committed offenders, and for the safekeeping of such other persons as may be remanded thereto in accordance with law;
(b) To administer the release of prisoners under parole supervision and to administer parole services in the institutions and in the community;
(c) To administer probation services in the community;
(d) To develop policies and programs for the correctional treatment and rehabilitation of offenders committed to institutions in the Division;
(e) To establish standards for the management, operation, personnel, and programs of, and to exercise powers of supervision, visitation, and inspection over, all institutions in the Republic for the detention of persons charged with or convicted of an offence, or for the safekeeping of such other persons as may be remanded thereto in accordance with the law, and to close any such institution which is inadequate.”
The legislative framework governing the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation is contained in the Criminal Procedure Law, Chapters 41, 42, and 44. The issues on Corrections are also covered in other chapters of the criminal procedure law - code of laws of the Republic of Benin. The Bureau is also peripherally mentioned in the constitution of the Republic of Benin, and particularly in chapter three on fundamental rights which in article 21 makes declarations with regards to treatment of people in custody. Other regulations policies and international conventions that guide the delivery of corrections services include: Code of Regulations, Policy Framework, National Policies, Institutional Policies and Post Orders, Convention Against Torture (CAT) and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) and United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTP).
To create a safe and secure society through the successful Rehabilitation and Reintegration of offenders.
The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall contribute to national security, growth and development of Benin by striving to change offenders’ behaviours through rehabilitation in a safe, secure and humane manner for their successful reintegration into the community in order to help them lead law-abiding, self-sustainable lives without crime after release.
• Professionalism: We conduct ourselves with distinction.
• Leadership: We aspire to be positive role models and encourage others to excel.
• Integrity: We act lawfully and ethically.
• Respect: We treat everyone with courtesy, dignity, equality and concern for human rights.
• Accountability: We are responsible to ourselves and others for our actions and decisions.
1. To provide safe custody, care and control of offenders in order to protect the society.
2. To provide rehabilitation to offenders for successful reintegration with special reference to vulnerable groups.
3. To ensure effective administration, security and maintenance of all corrections institutions