The Senior Correctional Centre, an institution that cares for young offenders and juveniles, is making remarkable strides in the rehabilitation and reformation of offenders to prevent recidivism.
Offender recidivism describes a person who has re-offended and convicted more than once after he or she has gone through rehabilitation, reformation, and reintegration programmes.
Assistant Director of Prisons (ADP) Millicent Owusu, Officer in Charge of the Senior Correctional Centre, said empirical observation had proven that some issues contributing to recidivism included inadequate rehabilitation services and community reintegration challenges.
Therefore, she said, as part of the Centre’s reformation programmes, the young offenders were trained for a period of between six months to two years in various vocational and technical skills to fully reintegrate into their communities.
ADP Owusu was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the commissioning of the Second Phase of the Kosmos Energy Hunger Relief Projects for the James Camp Prison, Senior Correctional Centre and Light Outreach Foundation, a Christian charity.
The project involved the construction of snail, mushroom farming structures and irrigation facility as well as land preparation for vegetable farming and training of 105 beneficiaries including inmates and prison officers.
There are currently 220 young male offenders, including juveniles at the Senior Correctional Facility, a steady decline over the 2020 figure of 258 in the same period.
With an average admission of 105 young offenders yearly and a minimum stay of three months and a maximum stay of three years, the facility continues to provide tailor-made academic and vocational training programmes for inmates.
Stealing and defilement are some of the common crimes inmates are incarcerated for. Some of them are sent in for possession of drugs, illegal possession of arms among other offenses.
ADP Owusu said the 12-17 juveniles and 18-21 young offenders during their stay at the correctional centre undertook programmes in welding, vulcanizing, tailoring, carpentry, bead making, draftsmanship, auto electrical and mechanical and General Electricals in all its 14 workshops.
The inmates, she added, received tuition in Information Communication Technology(ICT) while others were taught through established formal schools meant to facilitate their rehabilitation.
She said all 224 male inmates at the centre were undergoing reformation training, adding that every year,” the boys are given the opportunity to write the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) Examination proficiency one and two with the aim of properly rehabilitating them as young offenders.”
“When we fail to offer them some form of skills training, there is the tendency for them to relapse into crime and end up in the prisons,” she said.
For instance, she said, this year, 26 inmates from the Senior Correctional Centre wrote the Basic Education Certificate Examination, adding that in 2020, 37 candidates who sat for the examination achieved a 100 per cent pass rate.
“The boys within the Municipality are enrolled in senior high schools, and this year, one of our boys represented Osu Presec in the Science and Maths quiz and was elected the senior prefect of the school,” she added.
She stressed that the achievements chalked so far were testament that Prison Officers were trying their utmost to ensure that those inmates were reintegrated fully into society and were able to contribute meaningfully to society.
ADP Owusu admitted that despite the achievements garnered, the correctional centre was facing some challenges with feeding and medication, and called on individuals and organisations to complement the government’s effort by supporting the centre.