The Director General of the Ghana Prisons Service (GPS), Mr. William K. Asiedu has announced that the Prison Service would change its name to Ghana Correctional Service or Correctional Service of Ghana.
He told a cross section of journalists in Accra that the change of name has been accepted by the Prisons Council and now waiting an Act of Parliament to give it the needed legal backing. Mr. Asiedu said the GPS is mandated to ensure that convicts come out totally reformed but due to financial constraints it has not been able to achieve this aim since 1972.
"Prison is for correction, and it has been our hope that people who pass through our hands get some vocational training so that they would be able to integrate into the society well," the Director-General said.
The Ghana Prisons Service is undergoing a restructuring process to ensure that prisoners do not come out of jail as hardened criminals but as totally reformed citizens.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting the Prisons Service under a four-year project to give true meaning to the reorganization of the Service. The project would focus on human rights development.
Mr. Asiedu said the Borstal Institute for juveniles would now be called Senior Correctional Centre.
"If you come here you are coming for a change. Now they are in uniform, we train them in drilling; they go to the classrooms to learn. They are taught things like physical education, psychological training, counseling and learn a trade. Now the place has changed, they have a time for everything, a time to play, time to learn, time to go to the dinning hall and time to sleep," he said.
"The prisons would be more or less like treatment centres. We will examine each prisoner and find out what is wrong with that prisoner and what makes him keep on offending and then we treat the offending behavior, we give them skills training. Most of them can't be employed; they don't even have confidence, so we have to build up their self confidence.”
Mrs. Susana Baiden, Deputy Director of Non-Formal Division of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports said functional literacy are recognized among the tools for reforming convicts.
"Without any doubt therefore, functional literacy is an indispensable tool for the building of crime-free society where everyone knows their rights and responsibilities and respect for the rights of others."
She warned: "Any country that down-plays functional literacy in its development agenda has a high probability of breeding an ignorant and crime-ridden society."
She said efforts have been intensified to reduce illiteracy of the active age, which stands at about 40% and advised the GPS to manage time and other resources efficiently to sustain the project.
Mr. A. K. Yeboah, Director of Human Resource of Ghana Prisons Service said he was happy for the support the service is enjoying from the UNDP.
He said the service has not been able to, over the years, carry out its reformation and rehabilitation mandate due to lack of adequate resources and appeals to various institutions to assist the prisons.
He said he hoped the workshop "will enable the Ghana Prisons Education Project which seeks to restore the shattered dreams of inmates incarcerated with regards to opportunity of education while in prison realized".