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General News
Overcrowding Of Prisons Worsen 8/14/2010

Overcrowding in the country''s prisons has reached an alarming proportion, posing challenges to the accommodation and health needs of the inmates, the Chairman of the Prisons Council, Air Marshal John Asamoah Bruce, has stated.

The situation, he said, had been compounded by the high number of remand prisoners who were awaiting trial and the closure of the James Fort and the Frafraha Camp prisons which served as remand homes.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Greater Accra Regional Prisons Committee in Accra, Air Marshall Bruce said, “This situation exerts undue pressure on the limited accommodation and health facilities, leading to excessive congestion and its attendant health problems."
The eight-member committee is chaired by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Armah Ashietey.

Other members are Ms Merley A. Wood of the Attorney-General’s Department; Mr Mustapha Obeng of the Ghana Muslim Mission; Ebenezer Amarteifio of the Department of Social Welfare and D.D.P. Al-Hassan K. Legibo of the Prisons Service.

The rest are Mr Frank Davies of the Ghana Bar Association, Dr Frank Owusu-Sekyere of the Ghana Medical Association and Dr Edward Antwi, the Deputy Director of Public Health.

A justice of the High Court, Mr Justice Charles Quist, swore the members into office. Air Marshal Bruce said the many challenges confronting prisons needed to be surmounted if they were to serve as reformation centres rather than “warehouses to keep social deviants”.

He expressed the hope that the completion of construction works on the 2,000 capacity Maximum Security Prison at Ankaful in the Central Region would alleviate the overcrowding situation.

According to him, the Prison Service Council had initiated plans to ensure that the feeding grant of 60Gp per prisoner a day was adjusted upward to enable the Prisons Service to provide meals of substantial nutritional value to the inmates.

In an address, Nii Ashietey said it was worrying that although the Ghana Prisons Service was mandated to reform convicts, the convicts rather came out of prison far more hardened to commit crimes with impunity.

He appealed to prison officers to encourage the inmates to embrace the idea of farming, which could better their lot inside and outside prison.

He said in order to ensure an efficient, secure, humane and reformative service and also decongest the prisons, the government had put in place pragmatic measures, such as the ongoing “Justice for All Programme”, which had led to the disposal of a substantial number of remand cases.

He appealed to the Judiciary to consider alternative ways of sentencing offenders of the law.

Mr Ashietey advocated the introduction of community service as an alternative to custodial sentences in cases of minor offences to help decongest the prisons.

The establishment of the regional prisons committee is a constitutional requirement that requires that the committees were set up to advise the Prisons Council on various issues relating to the administration of the prisons in the regions and make recommendations on the conditions and welfare of prisoners.


 
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