26.04.2005 Crime & Punishment

6,000 Youth Fill Our Prisons

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Accra, April 26, Graphic -- More than 6,000 Ghanaian youths are serving various terms in the country's prisons, with stealing being the major cause of their incarceration.

In addition, 5,000 young people are in the three psychiatrist hospitals, mainly as a result of substance abuse.

According to the Ghana Prisons Service, other offences that had sent the youth into the prisons include assault, murder, robbery, narcotic use, manslaughter and fraud. Others, the service indicated, were death threats, unlawful entry, causing harm, conspiracy and rape.

The incidence of delinquency among the youth and their incarceration has been a major worry to the society, eliciting major concern from the interior minister, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, who expressed concern about the phenomenon last week.

The minister, speaking at a three-day transformative leadership clinic in Accra, attributed the phenomenon of child delinquency to the use of narcotics.

He equally lamented the number of young people in the country's mental hospitals and stated, “These are people who should rather have been contributing their quota to national development.”

The chief psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Samuel Allotey, confirmed the fears of the interior minister when he told the paper in an interview that out of the 9,558 patients admitted at the three mental hospitals, 5,000 of them were between the ages of 16 and 29.

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