Government will soon lay before Parliament, a Bill for the promulgation of Alternative Sentencing that includes probation, parole and community service into the work of the Criminal Justice System in Ghana, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has disclosed.
Speaking at the Graduation and Commissioning Parade for one hundred and fifty officer cadets who made up Intake 27 of the Ghana Prisons Service in Accra on Friday, 28th August, 2020, Vice President Bawumia said these alternatives to custodial sentence hold great potential to decongest the country's Prisons and significantly reduce the financial burden in the management of our prison system.
"The Prisons Administration, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is leading the advocacy for alternative sentencing policy to be introduced in the country.
"The necessary operational adjustments are being made, including the human resource capacity to shoulder the additional responsibility," Dr Bawumia added.
The graduation ceremony was the climax of the last of four batches of One Thousand Five Hundred (1,500) new entrants for the Service drawn from varied professional backgrounds ranging from Accounting, Agriculture, Education, Engineering, Medicine and Social Sciences.
The Vice President commended management of the Service for "continuing to make strides in discharging its mandate to ensure that opportunities for developing the skills and talents of inmates are available to help them reorganise their lives for the better. The programmes cover agriculture, trade, training in different vocations and formal education for offenders who are of school going age."
Dr Bawumia expressed worry that some members of society are reluctant to accept ex-convicts back into their fold and continue to stigmatise former prison inmates.
"This unfortunate situation creates disadvantage to the ex-convicts and they are most of the time forced back to offending life with dire consequences to the society.
"I will therefore like to appeal to the general public to see prisoners' integration as a shared responsibility and offer the necessary support to enable these ex-convicts properly re-integrate and contribute their quota to national development. Anything short of this will render all the efforts by Prison Service fruitless and society will be at risk."
The Vice President charged the graduands to" internalise the principles of vigilance, humanity and fortitude. These must be your watchwords in your relationship with fellow officers and the inmates.
"Treat the prisoners with care, respect and decency without comprising your professional ethics. I have no doubt that you will succeed."
He commended all award winners, especially Junior Under Officer Amos Benang, who won the Commandant's Award, and Senior Under Officer Dr Florence Djoletoe, who was the best in Academics as well as the Best All-Round Officer Cadet.