Navrongo (U/E), Aug 30, GNA - Mr Mark Woyongo, Minister of the Interior on Friday, proposed the establishment of non custodian sentences, as part of measures to help decongest the country’s prisons.
The Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central, made the proposal when he visited the Navrongo Central Prison to familiarize with the situation at the prisons and see how it could be improved.
Most of the prisoners, who were suspected criminals, said they had been in prison for four to five years without trial. They complained that they were not properly fed and had little or no soap to bath and wash their clothes with.
The Prison, which is dilapidated and unclean, has a capacity to contain only 80 inmates but presently accommodating 217 inmates. They have access to only one toilet and one bathroom.
Mr Woyongo said plans were underway to hold a stakeholders meeting to chart a way forward to see how the laws could be reviewed to address the challenges confronting the country’s prisons and expressed hope that most of the challenges could be ironed out.
He cited instances where suspected criminals were kept in prisons for a number of years without trial and said that was a gross violation of their fundamental human rights that could be curtailed with the introduction of non custodian sentences.
The Interior Minister described the daily feeding grant of GHC1.80 for prisoners as woefully inadequate and said his Ministry would advocate for the increment of the grant to help feed the prisoners better.
He issued a directive to the management of the Navrongo prison to ensure that the sanitary conditions of the place was improved by expanding the bath room and the toilet and gave the assurance that a bus would be provided to the prison to ease the transportation problem.
The Interior Minister disclosed that the Ministry had received a proposal from Brazil, which intends putting up complex structures including facilities such as workshops and schools, among others, for the country’s prisons.
He added that plans were also far advanced with the British Government to upgrade the structures of the Ankafo and Nsawam prisons to a befitting status and entreated the prisoners to take the opportunity given to them to acquire vocational skills, so that when they finish serving their sentences they could be integrated well into society.
The Interior Minister, who was accompanied by his Deputy, Mr James Agalga and other Service Commanders, admonished the inmates to stay away from crimes after being released since that could send them back to prison.
The Prisoners expressed gratitude to the Minister and his entourage for the visit and pleaded with the Minister to fulfill the promises he made to them.