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25.05.2006 General News

Inmate calls for removal of stigma on ex-convicts


An inmate of the Obuasi local prison has said not until the Ghanaian society removed the stigma it attached to ex-convicts, the struggle for national integration would be a mirage. The in-mate, who pleaded anonymity made the statement when the Obuasi office of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) held a forum with the prison officers and the in-mates at the prison yard to celebrate this year's Constitutional Week in the municipality. The theme for the celebration was "Local Participation and Social Auditing for Poverty Reduction".

The celebration with the in-mates was to help the prisoners to come back to society fully conscious of some Government policies and programmes, as well as their freedoms, rights, responsibilities and roles as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution. The in-mate said because the society refused to embrace them after serving their sentences and still placed the "ex-convict" tag on them, the tendency for them to commit other crimes and return to the prisons was there, but that is not the best".

He, therefore, appealed to society to accorded them the dignity they deserve to promote their re-integration into the wider society In his address, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Antwi, the Municipal NCCE director advised the in-mates to be law-abiding so that they could receive the expected information that would enable them lead diligent lives after their release.

Mr Antwi encouraged them not to feel rejected but should learn from their mistakes and re-orientate their minds from wrongdoings. "Do not feel rejected for the fact that you have been sent to prison, but learn from your mistakes and orientate your minds from any wrongdoings that has brought you to this present situation," the NCCE boss said.

Mr Antwi urged the in-mates to avail themselves of opportunities that could help them to reform before they were set free. Mr Asiedu Baffour, the Senior Field Officer of the Obuasi office of the NCCE said the Constitutional Week was to remind Ghanaians of the provisions and contents of the Constitution and to unite the citizenry to fight against the abuse and violations of its contents to promote true and sustainable democracy and good governance. A prison officer during an open forum appealed to the government to seriously consider the establishment of prison hospitals, as pertained to the police and the military, since they encounter a lot of hardships when they sent sick prisoners to public hospitals.