Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has pledged government's commitment to decongest the country's prisons by implementing other forms of sentences.
Overcrowding, the age-old syndrome plaguing many of the country's prisons, renders resources allocated to the Ghana Prison Service for inmates woefully inadequate. It also waters down the impact of any form of transformation of inmates.
In admonishing the 13 members of the newly-inaugurated 8th Governing Council of the Ghana Prison Service, on Tuesday, Dr. Bawumia indicated that implementing other forms of sentences will ensure that persons who are sentenced to serve jail terms are truly reformed.
“With the rise in population as contained in the provisional results of the 2021 Population and Housing Census and the increasing trend of crime, some predict that overcrowding in the prisons will worsen and that will compromise healthy standards of our prisons. To address this age-old problem, the government remains focused on spearheading the introduction of non-custodial sentences as alternatives; and the expansion of existing prison infrastructure.”
“The government is also committed to the passage of the Prisons Bill, 2021. I'm reliably informed that the Service has initiated external stakeholders' consultation workshops to develop a comprehensive bill for the country's prison system. The routine interventions to decongest the prisons via presidential amnesty will continue in consultation with the Council of State and the Prisons Service Council. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 1,602 prisoners were granted presidential amnesty last year in a bid to mitigate the impact of overcrowding in the prisons.”
He also said that the Service would be properly equipped to ensure that it is better placed to reform criminals and urged the newly sworn-in members to work assiduously to deliver on their mandate.
“Government is mindful of the logistical challenges of the Ghana Prisons Service, especially operational vehicles to convey inmates to the courts and hospitals. The Service would therefore be retooled to enhance its operations. The Service would be repositioned as an excellent centre of reformation and rehabilitation in line with modern regimes and best practices in corrections management. The paradigm shift from mere custodial housing of offenders to their reformation and rehabilitation should therefore be the driving force for the Service in these times.”
In his response to the remarks of the Vice President, the newly sworn-in Chairman of the Council, Most Reverend Peter Paul Yelezuome Angkyier, pledged the support of his colleagues to address the pertinent challenges facing the Ghana Prison Service.
“As a Council, we have taken note of the issues raised in your address and all the admonitions you have made. I would say that I am abreast with the issues that you have raised, having worked with the last Council. We shall do our very best to carry out the task and mandate entrusted to us and to meet the expectations of the government; of course, relying on the support of all stakeholders. Given the challenges facing the Prisons Service at this moment, it is my conviction that these can adequately be addressed for the transformation and growth of the institution; with a concerted effort from us as a Council, together with the government and the Prison Service administration.”
Most Reverend Peter Paul Yelezuome Angkyier would be supported by 12 others on the Council, including the Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, the Director-General of the Ghana Prisons Service, Isaac Egyir, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr. Cyril Fayose, the Overlord of Buipe, Buipe-Wura Mahama Abdulai Jinapor II and the Member of Parliament for Mfantseman in the Central Region, Ophelia Mensah Hayford.
The others are Dr. Frank Serebour, Vincent Kizito Benyo Esq., Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Rev. Comfort Asare, DDP Gloria Essandoh, CO Alhassan Koka, and Sarah M. Adetola.