The Ghana Prisons Service is calling for the swift passage of the Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak to help decongest Ghana’s prisons.
In recent times, attention has been drawn to the challenges facing prison facilities in Ghana, especially that of congestion.
This has triggered a myriad of reactions and calls for non-custodial sentences for minor offences and misdemeanours in order to decongest the prisons especially in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director of Prisons in Charge of Operations, Isaac Kofi Egyir said the service has made their inputs in getting the Bill passed.
“We in the Ghana Prisons Service have been strong advocates for quick passage of the law that regulate non-custodial sentences. I think that this is the right time that we all put our hands together to get this passed as quickly as possible to save the situation. We have made our inputs and it has gotten to the appropriate authorities and it is being worked on.”
Practising social distancing in prisons difficult
However, officials say measures are underway for inmates to practice social distancing during the day.
Superintendent Courage Atsem who is Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service told Citi News in an earlier interview that the service has suspended all contact visits as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Social distancing can only be practised within the day. Where they are open and they are able to move about but at night where they are supposed to sleep, their cells are usually congested and that is why our concern is to ensure that we do not record any case,” he said.
Government concerned about deplorable prison condition
Meanwhile, President Nana Akufo-Addo has said the government is concerned about the deplorable conditions in Ghana’s prisons.
In February, President Akufo-Addo said the government will soon roll out a program aimed at decongesting the prisons.
At a meeting with the leadership of Amnesty International Ghana.
“The conditions in our prisons have for some time not been acceptable. The building of more prisons which is the solution always goes back to the issue of the treasury and what is available but nevertheless it is something that should be addressed,” he said.
“The Interior Minister said he has heard you and I have no doubt that he agrees with you as I do and we ought to do something to improve the conditions and particularly in dealing with the issue of overcrowding in our prisons,” he added.