Parliament urged to pass Non-Custodial Bill into law

Ghana Parliament

The Ghana Prisons Service has called on Parliament to expedite the passage of the Non-Custodial Bill into law.
Shelved for nearly a decade, the Bill, among others, seeks to change the course of offenders’ behaviour by instilling in them a sense of moral obligation to their communities.

Besides its purpose of decongesting the prisons, it would also ensure that offenders such as parents and caregivers would carry out their punishments without being separated from their families for years, as is the case under the custodial sentencing system.

The Bill, is an alternative to a custodial sentence for convicted offenders of some crimes and would see offenders rendering unpaid public work within a community for a period not exceeding the term of imprisonment for which the court had sentenced them.

Deputy Director of Prisons, Robbin Kwesi Asamoah Fenning, the Central Regional Director of the Service, made the call on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony held for 43 inmates at the Ankaful Maximum Security prisons.
He prayed that the Bill would not “gather dust on the shelves of Parliament.”

“The conditions in some of our prisons are quite harrowing but can be corrected with the introduction of a non-custodial sentencing law to greatly reduce prison congestion by minimizing the large inflow of convicts charged with misdemeanour and petty crimes,” he appealed.

The programme was arranged by the Service, together with the Complementary Education Agency (CEA), formally Non-Formal Education Division, and supported by the Ghana Library Authority and the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem Municipal Assembly.

The graduates, comprising 23 inmates from the Maximum prison and 20 from the Annex, were taken through a year of functional literacy and occupational skills while serving various sentences at the facility.

Under the tutelage of professionals from CEA, staff of the Service, and some inmates, the graduates would be integrated into mainstream basic education to enable them to achieve their life goals.

Commending the inmates for their resilience to empower themselves, the Deputy Director of Prisons said the move formed part of the Service’s commitment to ensure safe custody, humane treatment, reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of inmates.

That, he said, would make them responsible, productive, and law-abiding citizens to build a world-class inmate reformatory management.

In that regard, he called for ceaseless support to enable more inmates to benefit.
Mrs. Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, applauded the management of the Service for the efficient management of the facility regardless of the teething challenges and commended the management for working tirelessly to maintain discipline and orderliness .

“It is your hard work and due diligence in carrying out your duties that have culminated in achieving such heights, and I urge you to work even harder.

“I am fully aware of some of the difficulties you face in the discharge of your duties. This is a prison complex, and it takes a lot of hard work, diligence, and strictness to manage such a place,” Mr. Assan told the Prison management.
For the beneficiaries, Mrs. Assan asked them to consider their current incarceration as a temporary opportunity to turn a new leaf and start afresh.

She stated that non-formal education had minimized the gap between both formal and informal education and provided liberal, flexible, standard, cheap, and qualitative education as per the need of the individual.

Additionally, she appealed to the prison wardens to be circumspect in dealing with the inmates, and treat them with dignity to boost their confidence, reform, and ease their reintegration.

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