Private prisons are often run by families, funded by the state, donations and the work performed by the children imprisoned there. The conditions are the same as in closed prisons, except that the Director decides whether the prisoner deserves to be freed, with the knowledge that in doing so he looses free labour and a portion of the money allocated to him by the state for the prisoner (3500 Malagasy francs per day, roughly 5FF).
In these centres, physical and psychological punishment are dealt out to those who disobey, which is a sufficient reason to runaway by any means ; more children run away than are let out. But the reprisals are severe for those who get caught : “They made us walk on our knees from the road to here, they threw big stones at us and then beat us with sticks and electric wires”, explains Justin who tried to run away with two friends.
Even though Malagasy law is supposed to limit their preventive detention, once inside these centres it is almost impossible to leave. In one centre for example, the majority of the inmates are children picked off the capital’s streets in 1987, ten years ago; forgotten children who have lost all contact with their families.
“My life here doesn’t correspond to the life that I should have. If I was guilty, this punishment could be justified, all I can do now is wait.” – Solofo, inmate in a private prison.