Justice for all Program not releasing criminals into society – CJ fends off criticism

The Chief Justice Georgina Wood has rejected claims that the Justice for all Program is unleashing unreformed prisoners into the society.

Chief Justice Wood raised the issue at the inauguration of the first ever permanent court at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison.

She insisted that claims against the Justice for all Programme are false.

“Permit me to indicate our surprise to the recent negative publications aimed at denigrating the Justice for All Programme and by extension the judiciary, which publications wrongfully alleged that the Justice for All Programme releases armed robbers to public domain to commit further crimes targeted at the law abiding members of society.”

She therefore stated emphatically, “We note with concern that most of the publications are wholly untrue. Cynicism, the publication of falsehoods or untruths, over generalization or exaggeration, augurs ill for building strong institutions of state.”

Chief Justice Wood pleaded with media houses to verify such stories in order not to “demoralise the hard working members of this programme”.

The high court at the Nsawam prison cost 25 thousand pounds with support from the British government. It is part of reforms meant to help decongest the country’s prisons, especially following Joy News documentary “Locked and Forgotten”.

Chief Justice Wood is optimistic, with the presence of the court, access to justice for remand prisoners will be greatly enhanced.

Some remand prisoners for some reasons don’t have access to lawyers to defend, which she said has forced some to spend “unreasonable” number of years on remand without trial, infringing on their constitutional rights.

“The title of this documentary produced by Seth Kwame Boateng of Joy News is very appropriate as it describes the plight of prisoners in our detention facility despite the clear provisions of Article 15 (1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana… ‘The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable’.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Prisons Council, Rev. Steven Wengam indicated that the court is part of their strategic plan going forward.

He also noted that over 2000 remand prisoners have had their cases reviewed under the Justice for all Programme and about 600 of them have gained their freedom. Something he described as “a great relief to us”.

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