Law Reform Commission supports alternatives to Custodial Sentencing

By Iddi
Yire, GNA

Accra, Oct 13, GNA – The Law Reforms
Commission is actively promoting the subject of Restorative Justice and
Alternatives to Custodial Sentencing.

Mrs Anita M. Heymann Ababio, the Executive
Director, Law Reform Commission, made this known at a Multi-Stakeholder
Conference on the “Non-Custodial Sentencing Policy Zero Draft Bill”,
in Accra.

The workshop, which was opened formally by
Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo was on the theme: “Consolidating Efforts to Enrich
the Zero Draft Non-Custodial Sentencing”.

It was organised by the POS Foundation in
collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the Judicial Service of
Ghana.

Non-Custodial Sentence or Alternative Sentence
refers to a punishment given by a court of law that does not involve a prison
term.

Non-Custodial Sentence has various forms such
as community service order, probation order, supervision order (parole), drug
testing and treatment order.

Mrs Ababio said Ghana lags behind many other
African countries in terms of prison reforms; stating that their initiation to
work on the subject (non-custodial sentencing) begun with a Roundtable
Conference in 2005, which was later followed up with visits to several prisons
and police cells nationwide.

She said the methodology of the Commission in
line with other law Reform Agencies worldwide, was development focused, in line
with a participatory approach.

Mrs Ababio said it was their shared task to
make sure that this historic policy and legal initiative becomes a
transformational one.

Mr Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior, in
a speech read on his behalf said, as at October 10, there were a total of
15,094 prisoners held in custody against a total capacity of 9,875, with a
corresponding general overcrowding rate of 52.9 per cent.

He said the passage of the Non-Custodial
Sentencing Bill into law would help decongest the nation’s prisons; and also
help reduce the high cost of feeding inmates.

Madam Tove Degnbol, the Ambassador of Denmark
to Ghana, said the Zero Draft Bill represents a milestone for Ghana’s commitment
to promote access to justice for all, including vulnerable populations.

“The non-custodial sentencing bill, when
passed into law, will affirm Ghana’s quest for the protection of all citizen’s
rights in accordance with international norms and standards,” she said.

Mr Jonathan Osei-Owusu, Founding Executive
Director, POS Foundation said the Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill, 2018, deals
with the alternate sentencing powers to provide for the rehabilitation of
offenders and to provide for related matters.

GNA

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