The Ministry of Interior has revealed that as at October 10, there were a total of 15,094 prisoners held in custody against a total capacity of 9,875, with a corresponding general overcrowding rate of 52.9 per cent.
According to Mr Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior, the passage of the Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill into law would help decongest the nation’s prisons; and also help reduce the high cost of feeding inmates.
This was revealed at a Multi-Stakeholder Conference on the Non-Custodial Sentencing Policy Zero Draft Bill, in Accra.
The workshop, on the theme: “Consolidating Efforts to Enrich the Zero Draft Non-Custodial Sentencing”, was organised by the POS Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the Judicial Service of Ghana.
Non-Custodial Sentence or Alternative Sentence refers to a punishment given by a court of law that does not involve a prison term.
Non-Custodial Sentence has various forms such as community service order, probation order, supervision order (parole), drug testing and treatment order.
Section 294 of Act 30 provides as follows: “The following punishments may be inflicted for offences: death, imprisonment, detention, fine, payment of compensation and liability to police supervision.
According to Ghana Prisons Service statistics, in 2007, 30.7 per cent of the country’s total prison population of 13,335 was remand prisoners but as of 2016, the JFAP had helped to reduce the remand population to 18.2 per cent. It has been detected in the JFAP that many remand prisoners were virtually abandoned by police investigators or prosecutors without justification.
Justice For All Programme (JFAP), was Established in 2007, the JFAP aimed at decongesting the country’s prisons and promoting prisoner rights, especially those of remand prisoners.
The programme actually involves the setting up of special courts at the prisons where cases of prisoners whose cases meet the criteria of the programme are reviewed.
The JFAP has been beneficial to the vulnerable and poor who find themselves in detention for one reason or another and are unable to afford the legal fees and so self-represent or remain unrepresented.
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