CHRAJ Director advocates non- custodial sentences to decongest prisons

Tuesday 21st May, 2019
Mr Stephen Okpoti-Mensah
By Bertha Badu-Agyei, GNA

Koforidua, May 21, GNA - Mr Stephen Okpoti-Mensah, Eastern Regional Director of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has advocated non- custodial sentences as a means to decongest the prisons.

He noted that conditions prevailing at the prisons notably, congestion, feeding and inadequate bedding was not the best and it was important for alternative punishments such as non- custodial sentences to be considered so that too many offenders were not sent to the prisons.

Mr Okpoti-Mensah was briefing the media after touring the Koforidua prisons to see the situation there, in line with the CHRAJ’s mandate as a human rights institution.

He said CHRAJ in accordance with international practice and standards is mandated to visit detention camps periodically to inspect the conditions of inmates and their environment to enable them compile reports on human rights as well as make recommendations for corrections to improve the prisons.

He observed that the number of inmates in each cell at the prison was too much and creating serious congestion and called on the authorities to do something about it, adding that, even though they are inmates, they still had rights.

Despite the congestion, the Koforidua prison has a well refurbished workshop that offers opportunity for convicts to be trained in tailoring and a classroom for the inmates.

Assistant Director of Prison (ADP) Joseph Asabre, of the Koforidua prisons said there were 657 inmates, including 58 foreigners for the 400 capacity prison creating serious congestion.

He appealed for support from corporate Ghana to expand the walls of the prison, a project that had started but stalled due to lack of funds to create more space for the inmates and a clinic, adding that, medical attention is given under canopies daily.

He also appealed for support to improve the records/reception area because the office is too small and officers use benches and plastic chairs to work.

ADP Asabre also appealed for the increment in the feeding fee of the inmates, which was currently pegged at GH¢ 1.80 per day, saying that, it was woefully inadequate.

GNA