The Deputy Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Prisons Service, ASP Samuel Kofi Opoku, has suggested that to ease prison congestion in the country, the use of non-custodial sentences should be adopted.
According to the Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, the country’s prisons are currently overwhelmed with huge numbers and should the laws include non-custodial sentences, it will go a long way in reducing the admission of inmates to the Prisons.
”Our laws should be looked at to allow for non-custodial sentences. This, I believe will contribute greatly in easing congestion in our Prisons”.Samuel Opoku
His comments come on the back of the wave of cell breaks in the country which recently saw twelve inmates escape from the Zenu-Atadeka Police Station in the Kpone-Katamanso Municipality of the Greater Accra Region last week when a police officer opened the cells to place a suspect in custody. It was the third time in two months that Ghana had recorded a cell break.
Mr. Opoku further disclosed that, the 44 prison facilities across the nation currently houses over 12,900 inmates. This, he said, is a number which is way over the initial 9,945 capacity prisons.
He also admonished that the corporate bodies, religious-based organizations and the general public;should continue to complement the efforts of the government by supporting the Prisons Service;in effectively undertaking safe custody reformation and reintegration of inmates to ensure public safety.
Rule out prison privatization
Also commenting on the recent development which also brought about the suggestion to privatize prisons;across the country, the Executive Director of the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCA), Muktar Mumuni Muqthar, has stated that, the idea must be ruled out.
Mr. Muqthar explained that, Ghana does not have adequate preparations in place to privatise prisons in terms of infrastructure,;discipline and legislation.
“This is an idea that has been talked about for quite some time, but I do not at this moment think we are not adequately placed;in terms of discipline, legislature and culture around these things.
“First of all, you need to ask yourself why do these things happen? It’s because prisoners exploit situations of vulnerability? We just saw how in Ga East in January, two prisoners exploited a situation and came out very successfully;without any resistance from anywhere.”Muktar Muqthar
He said until the challenges of infrastructure, discipline and legislation are fixed, it will be hard to privatize the prisons. Moreover,
“Sometimes things happen. You look at the issue of complicity of police officers in Ghana. Sometimes things happen with the complicity of officers within the system. And you cannot expect the private sector to do this without issues like that being handled.”Muktar Muqthar
Meanwhile, police officers have rearrested seven out of the 12 escapees from the Zenu-Atadeka Police Station in Kpone-Katamanso.
,According to an official statement, six of them have been convicted by the Ashaiman Circuit Court on their own plea on charges;related to their escape from lawful custody.
The statement also said the Tema Police Regional Command is making all efforts to rearrest the remaining five wanted persons. However
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