Mr Mark Woyongo, Minister of the Interior on Monday presented the report of a two-day forum on non-custodial sentencing policy for Ghana to the Chief Justice, Justice Theodora Georgina Wood.



The Minister said the interest of the Ministry is towards decongesting the prisons, especially following recent developments at the Kumasi Central Prisons.

He said it was observed at the forum that some non-custodial sentencing provisions already exist in the law books but these are not being applied by the judges.

He said the forum also observed that judges should be trained and oriented to utilize the options available in the current legal framework, and reminded through continues legal education, to apply what already exists in the law books while efforts are being made to explore and expand the options.

Mr Woyongo noted that copies of the report had already been submitted to cabinet and later submitted formally to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for discussions to begin and come out with the appropriate legal framework.

He appealed to the judicial service to continue supporting the Ministry, to come out with the appropriate legal framework to expand the non-custodial sentencing options available to judges, which would have a positive effect on de-congesting the prisons.

Justice Theodora Georgina Wood, receiving the copies of the report, expressed appreciation to the Minister and the Ministry for the measure taken to de-congest the prisons.

She said the ministry is really interested in ensuring that something is done about the state of the prisons, since such conditions shows a very poor image of the country.

?A country with these democratic credentials should not be facing such challenges. It paints a very bad picture about Ghana in the outside world?.

The Chief Justice noted that it was time to put an end to the forum and take concrete actions and steps that would bring an end to the challenges of prisoners in the country.

She said most circuit and district courts deal with criminal cases because of the fundamental human rights of people, and as such the judicial service is considering increasing the number of courts for criminal cases, particularly with the coming of the new legal year.

Judges also need reorientation on sentencing, as this would help make justice, more restorative rather that retributive, she added.

She assured the Minister of the Interior that they would study and implement the report whilst waiting for the necessary amendments to the criminal law and procedures.



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