Non-Custodial Sentencing to decongest Ghana’s prisons – Denmark Ambassador


    By Iddi
    Yire, GNA

    Accra, Oct 13, GNA – Madam Tove Degnbol, the
    Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana, says the practice of Non-Custodial Sentencing
    would go a long way to help decongest Ghana’s prisons.

    She said the Non-Custodial sentencing policy
    would guarantee prisoner’s rights to sentencing and consequently reduce prison
    congestion and promote reformation among convicts; adding that it was a key
    ambition of Denmark to support initiatives that promote human rights and social

    She explained that experience from other
    countries where it was used, including Denmark, showed that Non-Custodial
    sentences was also significantly reducing the number of prisoners who return to
    prison after they were released (the so-called rate of recidivism).

    Madam Degnbol said this 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

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

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

    Madam Degnbol said: “We believe that the
    Zero Draft Bill represents a milestone for Ghana’s commitment to promoting
    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 added.

    The Ambassador said the State had the
    responsibility to guarantee people’s rights; including fair trial for all, and
    rehabilitation and reformation for convicts.

    She mentioned the problems of overcrowded
    prisons, the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), chicken
    pox, high cell temperatures and noise levels as a result of poor ventilation in

    “I have had the opportunity to visit the
    Nsawam and the Akuse prisons, and although staff from Ghana Prisons Service
    were doing their best, it was obvious that there were too many prisoners and
    that they were suffering from the congestion,” the Ambassador stated.

    “It is for this reason that Denmark is
    pleased to be a part of this laudable initiative of the Judicial Service of
    introducing alternative sentencing regime into the Country’s laws.”

    Madam Degnbol said, she was hopeful that the
    bill, when passed into-law, would correct the structural defects in Ghana’s
    justice system that only sentence or remand prisoners into custody without
    giving them the opportunity for alternative sentencing.

    She urged both the Cabinet and the
    Legislature, and other key stakeholders to give the draft Bill the necessary
    support to ensure its swift passage into law.

    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.

    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.

    He said the Bill, which had been submitted to
    the Chief Justice for review, was subsequently forwarded to the
    Attorney-General/Ministry of Justice and finally to the Ministry of the


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