General News of Saturday, 7 February 2015
Interior Minister Mark Woyongo is crusading for non-custodial sentences as part of efforts to decongest the country’s prisons.
Speaking on Joy FM and Multi TV news analysis programme Newsfile, the Minister said there are too many people thrown into jail but who have no business being there.
“People are thrown to prison on remand needlessly,” he said, adding, if somebody steals banana he is thrown into prison when could have been given a non-custodial sentence of cleaning a market.
He was commenting on the fatal fire and attempted jail break incident at the Kumasi Central Prisons Wednesday night.
One inmate was reported dead with five jailers sustaining varying degree of injuries in the uprising.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but the apparent congestion of the Kumasi prisons has been a source of worry.
The facility was built for 600 inmates but is now home to over 2000, many of whom are believed to be on remand.
Woyongo said the only way out is to ensure a reform of the country’s legal system and a speedy introduction of non-custodial sentences.
He said he has taken steps towards the introduction of non-custodial sentences. According to him, experts have begun work on the reforms and have submitted a report to the Attorney General who would offer her opinion.
Once that is done, the Minister said he would take it to Cabinet for approval and later to Parliament to be passed into law.
He would however not give any timelines for the prosecution of the task.
Country of Talkers
The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper Malik Kweku Baako Jnr expressed disappointment with Ghanaian authorities for talking too much and doing little.
“The issue about congestion in prison is an old story. Advocacy for non-custodial sentences is an old story,” he stated.
He recounted how in the 1980s he spent 19 months at the Koforidua prison, which ought to have taken only 14 prisoners but had over 44 prisoners. “We just won’t do anything than talking. We talk talk talk,” he said.