Prisoners in the country could easily be infected with the COVID-19 if overcrowding in the cells is not addressed, says the Perfecter of Sentiments (POS) Foundation, facilitators of the Justice for All Programme.
The Foundation regretted what it described as worsened congestion of inmates in prisons across the country, and called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to grant pardon under Article 72 of the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution.
It is also proposing exclusion of Convicted Non-Violent Drug Users (not Trade/traffickers) serving below 10 years from the old PNDC Law 236 which enforces, controls, and sanctions offences relating to narcotics.
Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director, POS Foundation, called on the Ministry of Interior to speed up processes for the passage of the Community Service Bill, which seeks to give offenders chances for reformation, instead of incarceration.
He made the call when the Foundation presented Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other items worth GH¢39, 000.00 and a cheque of GH¢2, 000.00 to the Sunyani Central Prisons.
Some of the items included Vitamin C, thermometer gun, veronica Buckets, automated hand washing machine, liquid soaps, bins, tissue, gloves, and food items would be supplied to the Duayaw-Nkwanta and Kenyase Prisons Camp in the Ahafo Region.
Mr. Owusu indicated that it would be suicidal if the COVID-19 hit the various prisons in the country due to the overcrowding of inmates in cells, saying, instead of the 815 designed capacity, the Nsawam prisons currently contained 3,305 inmates.
The Kumasi Central Prisons were also designed to accommodate only 800 inmates, but currently, the cells have more than 1,880 inmates.
“There is nothing like social distancing in the prisons”, a situation he observed places the life of prison wardens and inmates in danger.
This, he explained, was the reason why the POS and its funding Agencies- German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) was undertaking COVID-19 Response Prisons Outreach Project in the country.
Under the project, the implementers would donate several PPE to Prisons and support them with cotton materials to produce one million nose masks to protect personnel of the Ghana Prison Service (GPS).
The project engages prison inmates in tailoring and dressmaking to sew the nose masks.
Deputy Director of Prisons (DDP) Kwasi Asamoah Fenning, the Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo Regions Commander of the GPS said overcrowding was also a major problem in the prisons, saying, the prison was built in 1960 and instead of 350 inmate capacity, it now has 866 inmates.
He thanked the Foundation for the support and appealed to other corporate organisations to emulate the patriotic gesture.