General News of Tuesday, 15 April 2014
A criminologist, Professor Ken Attefuah, has advised inmates at the various prisons in the country to sue the state for the dehumanizing condition they are subjected to.
The deplorable state of the nation’s prisons has been unresolved concerns for years, and Prof. Attefuah suggests it is time the inmates themselves took the state to task to wake up to its responsibilities.
Inmates at the Koforidua Central Prison had the cause to demand for better condition when the Eastern Regional Minister toured their facility.
It was revealed that about 700 inmates crammed at the facility queue to attend nature’s call in three water closets which had water hardly running through them. Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and chicken pox are a common sight at the place.
Daily feed for inmates was recently increased from 60 pesewas to GH¢1.80. Sharing his thought on how to improve the prison conditions on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Tuesday, Prof Ken Attefuah mentioned that the appalling conditions violate not only the inmates’ dignity but the human dignity as a whole.
He cited several home grown and international provisions, like Article 15 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right, which frown on the kind of conditions at the country’s prisons.
In condemning successive governments’ piecemeal approach to dealing with the deplorable conditions, Prof. Attefuah who is Acting Dean of Central University Law School told inmates, “you can sue the republic for subjecting you to such conditions...the Supreme Court upheld in case after case, that, socio-economy rights are justifiable and that you can sue [but] the attitude of the court is another matter.”
In his observation, the terrible conditions inmates pass through affect them psychologically and rather make them come out “brutal” and not as reformers.
He is therefore calling for a “radical shake up in our prison reform” which should involve all and sundry, although the “responsibility lies squarely with the state”.
He maintained: “I am of the view that these confused goals and conflicting objectives, and the antiquated and dilapidated prison facilities, most suitable as museum pieces than place of detention continue to inflict tremendous harm on the minds and heart of the prisoners as well as, indeed, on the prisons officers. The prisons officers themselves work in conditions that are demeaning that embarrass themselves and embarrass the prisoners and embarrass the visitors who go into it”.