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22.10.2008 Social News

Prison is meant for reform not punishment -Addo Kufuor

By Magdalene Sey, Ankaful - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Minister of the Interior, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, has stated that the main aim of government was to reform or transform prisoners, and that the government did not take delight in sending people to prison, to punish them. “It is rather to train them to be able to cater for themselves, after serving their various sentences.”

According to Addo Kufuor, it was in that line that government had introduced programmes such as Information Communication Technology (ICT), Presidential Special Initiative (PSI), Vocational and Pre-Technical programmes among others, to help reform prison inmates to fit into society, after serving their prison terms.

Dr. Addo Kufuor said this on Thursday, when he inspected the new prison camp at Ankaful in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) municipality.

He also interacted with staff and inmates of the Ankaful Prison, and donated mattresses, cups and toiletries to the inmates, as part of his visit to the prison.

He noted that although the Ghana Prison Service (GPS) had chalked many successes, it continued to face challenges such as heavy congestion, prolonged incarceration for remand prisoners, and poor facilities for staff and inmates. He assured them that as part of government's medium term objective to improve prison conditions, it had increased the feeding grant for prisoners, paid ¢80 million to cover the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for staff and inmates, as well as provided clothes for the prison inmates.

Dr. Addo Kufuor disclosed that the government had called for the review of all tribunal and remand cases, adding that about 38 remand prisoners had been released.

He added that the new prison block, which would accommodate about 5,000 prisoners, would be ready by November, to solve congestion problems in the prison.

The Central Regional Director of Prisons, Mr. Tweneboah-Koduah, added that there were seven prison camps in the region, with 1,955 prisoners, and 514 staff.

He said his outfit had made strives in the reformation and transformation of inmates, as it had already enrolled 29 inmates in PSI, learning electrical, tailoring, carpentry and soap making.

He commended the government for releasing funds to cover the registration of 3,520 inmates, and their dependants.

He, however, appealed to government to release the salary and retirement benefits of prison staff on time, and also provide more prison camps to help decongest the prisons. He also appealed for a fence around the Ankaful Prison, to serve as a security measure to prevent prisoners from escaping.

The Director General of the Prisons Service, Mr. Ben Quaye, and other officials accompanied Addo Kufuor.