Regional News of Tuesday, 14 January 2014
The Regional Commander of the Wa Central Prison, Abundant Robert Awolugutu, has suggested the introduction of grants for ex-convicts before their discharge.
The Assistant Director of Prisons believes this would enable them to quickly settle and properly integrate back to society.
Mr Awolugutu made the suggestion in Wa when officers of the Wa Central Prison held an end of year get-together to refresh themselves and reflect upon the successes and challenges they encountered during the year under review in order to chart a way forward.
“When inmates are discharged, they are given fares which can only transport them from the prison to the place of arrest and conviction. Nothing is added for buying food on the way, not even pure water,” he lamented.
He pointed out that discharged prisoners virtually have nothing to depend on for the first few weeks and that forced some to undertake criminal activities like stealing in order to get their daily bread, which subsequently send them back to jail.
The Wa Central Prison Commander recounted some achievements of his outfit including the organization of a reformation school to impart academic and vocational skills to inmates, and an appeal school which allowed inmates to have free access to legal counsel.
Other successes chalked were the establishment of a paralegal unit to liaise with the courts to determine for renewal remand prisoners whose warrants had expired, aimed at ensuring speedy trial; and registering inmates with the National Health Insurance Scheme to access free health care.
Mr Awolugutu said access to justice by inmates continued to remain a challenge due to frequent transfer of investigators outside the region and frequent court adjournments, as well as the perennial congestion problem the prison faced.
On the way forward, Mr Awolugutu suggested that the Director-General of Prisons be empowered to release prisoners who were deemed to be truly reformed as a measure to decongest prisons nationwide.
Mr Abu Kabiebata Kansangbata, Deputy Upper West Regional Minister commended the security agencies for working hard to maintain peace and order in the region.
He also commended the Service for instituting junior and senior high school classes and vocational training programmes at the prisons to reform inmates.