CSOs can help improve prison conditions


Mrs Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director, Ministry of the Interior, says prison conditions in the country can improve when Civil Society Organisations, the diplomatic community, Non-Governmental Organisations and citizens support activities of the Ghana Prisons Service (GPS).

She said such supports, could be in the form of education, vocational skills training, and job offers that carried a “moral, spiritual, social, health and sport-based nature.”

Mrs Anno-Kumi said all such programmes, activities and services should be delivered in line with individual treatment needs of prisoners.

She said this at the launch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Ghana Prisons Service collaborative Project in Accra.

The project is a three-year structured support scheme estimated at $2.8 million.

It will strengthen the compliance of the GPS with the United Nations Standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners (The Nelson Mandela Rules).

Mrs Anno-Kumi said the project would improve the general condition in prisons and promote a refined classification of prisoners.

She said it would focus on areas such as healthcare services for prisoners, accommodation for inmates, skills developments and the training of staff.

The Chief Director said the project was in line with Government’s vision to retool the Ghana Prisons Service to become a centre of excellence in corrections’ management and administration.

She said the purpose of imprisonment was to primarily to protect society against crime and reduce re-offending.

Mrs Anno-Kumi said, however, that aim could only be achieved if the period of imprisonment was used to ensure that at the time of reintegration back into society, they could live a law-abiding and self-supporting life.

She urged the Prisons Service to introduce new initiatives to address challenges such as low feeding rate, staff accommodation and facilitate justice programmes.

The Chief Director advised prison officers to ensure that inmates were treated in a manner that would not detract them from their human dignity.

Mr Isaac Kofi Egyir, Director-General, GPS, said the Service could not perform its roles effectively without the continuous development of human resource.
He mentioned overcrowding, inadequate health facilities, lack of education, training of new entrants, limited opportunities for human resource development, as some of the challenges that hampered their operations.

The Director-General said partnerships with international development agencies, civil society organisations and philanthropic individuals were needed to improve the GPS.

He lauded UNODC for the collaboration and urged participants to take advantage of the opportunity and cooperate with the resource persons.

Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, Ambassador of the United States of America (US) to the Ghana said each year, approximately, 15 million people were imprisoned worldwide.

She said how the inmates were treated whilst they served their prison term had a tremendous impact on society when they were released.

The Ambassador said the US would continue to support Ghanaian efforts to strengthen operations of the Prisons Services.

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