General News of Sunday, 15 March 2015
Businesses are collapsing, people are losing their jobs and students cannot study at night all because of the ongoing power crisis.
These are the realities outside the prisons but in the Nsawam Medium Security prison, the energy crisis has rather left a number of inmates seriously wounded as a result of violent attacks on each other.
The commander in charge of the Nsawam prisons, Deputy Director of Prisons Sylvester Rabbles said the facility depends on electricity for a number of essential needs.
Mr. Rabbles, who was addressing a team of judges dispatched to the facility by the Chief Justice to experience the state of prisoners, especially those on remand, said the violence has become a daily feature.
“Violence is something that we face here almost every day. It is not violence of the officer on the inmate but it is violence of the inmate on the inmate. When they fight over the little utility that is available.”
“For instance when we have power cuts and we are not able to pump enough water, they have to fight over the little water that we have. That constantly, on daily basis, leads to fighting and some of the time some of them get hurt in the process,” and even prison officers get hurt in the process of trying to separate them.
The Nsawam medium security prisons was originally built to hold 851 prisoners but it currently accommodates 3576 inmates. The over 420 percent overcrowding rate has led to many diseases in that prison.
Deputy Director of Prisons Sylvester Rabbles said the prisons are “festering ground for communicable diseases of Hepatitis, [and] Tuberculosis, skin rashes. We are here we work with them 24 hours a day,” and the officers easily contract such diseases and unfortunately transmit them to their families, who also infect others.
According to him, “Lack of attention for the prisons can become a public health issue. Some of the time, this are the things that we disregard,” because when some of the infected prisoners are released, “the ailment that we failed to deal with in prison, we have to deal with in society.”