Carcerality, criminality and impunity in Kinshasa-DRC: punitive adjustments at the central prison of Makala

Denis Samnick

Carceral punishment in Makala Central Prison is not systematically implemented when a crime is committed in Kinshasa. In cases where it is triggered, it is subject to interruptions, negotiations and discrimination, which are summarised in this research under the generic name of punitive adjustments. In punitive adjustments, the need to punish, the intensity of the punishment, the economic and political benefits that can be derived from it, as well as the set of social imaginaries that refer to prison punishment, are at the centre of the negotiations. These adjustments show that, beyond the criticisms of impunity in the DRC, there is a punitive base against which non-punishment, interruptions of punishment or reductions in the intensity of punishment are constructed. How is carceral punishment negotiated, avoided, applied, intensified and alleviated in the daily governance of the Makala central prison in Kinshasa? What socio-political, humanitarian and economic issues underlie the punitive adjustments in Kinshasa? Based on these two questions, this presentation aims to demonstrate that punitive adjustments operate both inside and outside the prison, and respond both favourably and unfavourably to the demands, expectations and social strategies of all actors involved in prison governance.