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Monday, May 23, 2022

70% of our inmates are youth – Ankaful Prisons Director

An Assistant Director at Ankaful Maximum Prisons, Edward Eshun, has revealed that 70% of the inmates in the cells are made up of youth aged between 18 and 25 years.

According to the warden, the majority of them were convicted on charges of armed robbery and sentenced to serve jail terms from 10 years and above.

He attributed the situation to unemployment which has forced the teeming youth to resort to social vices to make ends meet.

“They are not employed and you know that ‘the devil finds work for the idle hands.’ Therefore not finding work to do and wanting to survive, they engage in robbery activities. So the majority of the convicts are armed robbers” said the Second In Command (2IC) on the Anopa Bofoↄ morning show.

Considering the situation disturbing, the founder of POS Foundation, Jonathan Osei Owusu reiterated the need for the government to find more corrective measures yet practical to reduce the negative impact of sentencing on the youth.

According to him, not all offences committed by young adults can be classified under first and second-degree felonies to attract punishments including jail term of not less than 10 years.

Section 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1960 (Act 30) stipulates that punishments be meted out to offenders include death, imprisonment, detention, fines, payment of compensation, and liability to police supervision.

However, according to Mr. Osei Owusu, the Act does not recognize the alternative sentencing or non-custodian sentencing to correct their behaviours without necessarily being imprisoned, which they are pushing for together with the Ministry of Interior and other stakeholders.

To the founder of the organization, the offenders have the potential to be very successful in life hence they bearing a criminal record could jeopardize that future they hope for.

“We don’t want the young person who engages in minor offences to be given a criminal record to ruin his life; he won’t be imprisoned to meet hardened criminals to mingle with them so that when he comes out he becomes a hardened criminal.”

“After serving his sentence for the short period and comes out, he goes to church, and yet he is regarded as an ex-convict. Shunned by all, friends he made from the prison and those whose contacts he was given from outside will be the ones he will associate himself with to commit graver crimes.

He, therefore, concluded by saying that the state should examine the inflow of youth into the prisons and reduce the same by “introducing alternative policy or law which will help someone who engages in minor offences not to appear in Winneba prison.”

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