“Sir, so what are you people going to do to us now that they say the disease is everywhere”? This is what one intelligent prisoner came asking me, and I gave him an assurance that the Service is in charge and that there's no need to panic.
Before His Excellency the President's speech, I told a colleague that, when there's a total lockdown, security agencies wouldn't be asked to stay home; because the safety of citizens and their properties are our sole headache; we laughed over it and less than 48hours, the President spoke to the nation on what looks like a partial lockdown.
In an article authored by the Deputy Chief Public Relations Officer of the Prisons Service, DSP Daniel Machator, he made mention of how the outbreak of H1N1 influenza in 2018 at the Ankaful Maximum Security Prison affected about 300 inmates and over 100 officers and their dependents. That heavy blow of an outbreak did not demoralize gallant officers from doing their core mandate of reformation, rehabilitation and the safe custody of inmates.
Yesterday, I read a press release from the Judicial Service that stated clearly; Police and Prisons Services are not to bring in remand prisoners or inmates with appeal cases until further notice. This will go a long way to increase the already congested cells both at the Police and Prison facilities because dates of court hearings will be adjourned.
The Prisons service is doing its best to protect officers and inmates from this deadly virus but that does not stop well-meaning Ghanaians from coming on board to support with sanitizers, antibiotic soaps, PPEs among other things that will help beef up the already planned precautionary measures of the service.
The Prison Officer, like Jesus, cannot say no to a sinner who needs salvation; so as the Courts and families are even avoiding them at this scary hour, we in the brown uniform, still honour our oaths and keep Reforming, Rehabilitating and keeping them in Safe custody; so you out there can have a sound sleep and properties protected.
The World Health Organization says avoid large crowds, but the prison officer patrol among not less than 200 inmates daily in a facility.
WHO is telling us to practice social distancing; but the chaplaincy, counselors, psychologists, Gatekeepers cannot do their work without getting closer. When you go down on your knees, pray for the prison officer and ask God to keep us safe and sound.
Governments now and past have done and keep doing their best for officers but as Oliver Twist did, we still ask for more! Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba.com has donated thousands of PPEs to Africa; I am by this piece also calling on well to do Ghanaians to come support our cause with all urgency.
We enjoy our job and endure at all times of trial and adversity, in hunger or thirst, in heat or cold, in rain or storm, seeking our strength from God, we shall endure cheerfully in the way of our duty.
The writer is a Second Class Officer with the Ghana Prisons Service and can be contacted on [email protected]