Inmate overcrowding has exceeded 100 per cent at the Sunyani Central Prison, officials have said.
According to Superintendent Stephen Nti, the Officer in-charge of Records, instead of the originally designed inmates’ capacity of 450, the central prison currently accommodated more than 900 inmates, thus affecting ventilation.
Speaking in an interview with Journalists in Sunyani, Supt Nti said the current situation at the Central Prisons was not the best, saying the prisons recorded a total of 316 inmates between April, May and June 2022, while 94 convicts were discharged.
He expressed concern about delays in cases due to prosecutorial challenges, including transfer of prosecutors, saying the delays were also increasing the number of inmates on remand.
Meanwhile, Mr Collins Osei, the Executive Director of the Save Our Environment Foundation (SEF), a civil society organization has called for the passage of the Community Service Bill.
He expressed worry about delays in the passage of the bill, which was still before the Attorney General’s Department, saying when passed into law, it would greatly help to tackle overcrowding in the country’s prisons.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Osei explained his outfit with support from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and its funding partners, the USAID, had intensified public engagements to sensitize the public on the bill and the need for its passage into law.
The Community Service Bill is an alternative to custodial sentences for convicted offenders in respect of certain types of offences.
Its passage would see offenders rendering unpaid public work within a community and for its benefit for a period not exceeding the term of imprisonment for which the Court had sentenced them.
Mr Osei explained the public sensitization on the bill formed part of the USAID Justice Sector Support Activity, which sought to enhance the nation’s justice delivery system, saying because of over-crowding, the nation’s prisons were unable to reform, rather many convicts become hardened, after serving their sentences.
Responding to the current state of the bill, Mr Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, a Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice told the GNA in an interview his outfit had drafted the bill and it would soon hold a nationwide stakeholder engagement and consultations on it.
“We will do the stakeholder engagement and consultation at the regional levels, collect inputs and fine-tune the bill before it is sent to cabinet and subsequently forwarded to Parliament”, he explained.