03.07.2006 Press Release

Ghana: Juvenile Delinquents, Prisoners On ¢4,000 a Day!

By Public Agenda.
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It has been established that juvenile delinquents and prisoners in the country's correctional institutions and prisons are fed on a four thousand cedis a day, thus affecting the quantity, quality and nutritional values of meals served. The figure has been in use over the last five years despite the fact that the minimum wage has gone up significantly five years ago and currently almost ten times the figure.

According to Mr. James B. Mwinyelle, Chief Superintendent of Prisons at the Borstal Institute of the Ghana Prisons Service in the Roman Ridge Area of Accra, the situation is disturbing, but they managed to supplement the meals with items from a nearby farm manned by the 68 youth currently under the supervision of the Service.

Mr Mwinyelle made these revelations when The Kingsmen, a men's group , of the Covenant Family Community Church (CFCC), Cantonments Accra visited the centre to interact with the youth and make a donation as part of activities towards Fathers Day Celebration. The Reverend Emmanuel Ansah, Associate Pastor of CFCC made the presentation on behalf of the Church.

The items presented included, detergents, washing powder, washing soap, bathroom slippers, snacks and drinks.

Mr Mwinyelle, the Deputy Director of the Institute explained that representations have been made to the authorities for an upward review to ensure that children brought to the Institute leave there better than they were when they were brought in, especially their nutritional concerns.

On how they were managing the situation, Mr Mwinyelle said they usually received generous donations from churches and benevolent organisations and this was helping them significantly. He said it was significant that 90 per cent of the children at the Borstal Institute are from broken homes, or where one of the parents are away or no longer in marriage.

Another challenge facing the Institute was start-up capital for the inmates after they had gone through training during their stay, which is limited to three years.

The new Juvenile Law now requires a shorter period of two to three months depending on the severity of the offence, Mr Mwinyelle noted. On the nature of training given to the youth, the Deputy Director said they go through carpentry, tie-dye, batik training, bakery, basket and cane weaving, tailoring, ceramics, auto-electrical and auto-technician training programmes.

"But one of our greatest handicaps is that most of the skill training centres here lacked adequate equipment and the centres does not have funds to set up the boys even though some of them train and are skilled over their period of stay."

He said those who were in school are helped to continue, adding that a number of them are currently being prepared to sit for the National Vocational Training Intitute (NVTI) Grade Two Examinations. The Prison Service is an adjunct of the Criminal Justice System of Ghana contributing to the maintenance of internal security by maintaining an efficient humane and safe reformatory penal system operated within the laws of Ghana.

Rev. Ansah, earlier said the presentation was part of CFCC's objective of reaching out to society and impacting them with the love of God and extending kindness to humanity.

He promised the Churches' continued support to making the lives of the inmates "comfortable and reformatory focused."

Mr Yaw Nketia, a member of The Kingsmen urged the Institute to create linkages with governmental and non-governmental organisations to make running of the place smooth and manageable.

He cited the government's Youth Training Programme as one area from which funds could be tapped for training of the inmates. "We need to work together to remould the character of these boys and make them feel that society still cares for them."

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