Essential Relief International (ERI), an NGO which aims to bring maximum relief to the poor and the voiceless in society has been launched in Accra.

The NGO, among other things, will support the Ghana Prisons Service to champion its reformation and rehabilitation agenda and provide support services to inmates.

Mr Alexander Nutakor, the Executive Director, ERI speaking at the launch, said “We have started the ground work to pre-test our concept and the results are overwhelming.”

He said the organisation had not only contributed financially towards challenging situations that required urgent attention but have also provided physical and moral support in many such situations in various part of the country.

He said it was important to support government’s efforts to provide social amenities and other forms of relief to the citizenry.

“Through our activities, we realised that our prisons required more support to complement the State’s efforts,” he added.

Mr Nutakor noted that the assumption that, whoever, was in prison was a criminal was incorrect, hence, the NGO’s decision to focus its activities towards inmates in the country’s prisons.

The Executive Director commended the Chief Justice’s ‘Justice For All Programme’ aimed at bringing justice to the marginalised and those who have been on remand without their cases being heard.

“Essential Relief International is happy to direct its focus towards our prisons to provide legal aid, rehabilitation support, sensitisation and alternative livelihood activities for ex-convicts,” he said.

He said the percentage of the youth in prisons was alarming with most of them committing petty crime, which could be obviously prevented.

He commended Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, the Executive Director of Check Crime Foundation for the partnership to create awareness on crime prevention.

He explained that from next month ERI and CCF would start screening “Life in Prison” documentaries in senior high schools across the country to deter the youth from crime.

“We will again partner CCF to provide Orbit Fans to some prisons as part of their Operation Support the 2,000 Orbit Fans Project,” he added.

Mr Kwarteng appealed to government to facilitate the quick passage of the Alternative Sentencing Bill, which is currently in Parliament after so many years.

He explained that the Bill, if passed into law, would ensure that those, who committed petty offences were given community work instead of throwing them into prisons.

“What is the sense in jailing someone, who steals a tuber of yam eight years, when such a person can desilt gutters and sweep the streets of filth,” he added.


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