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General News of Wednesday, 25 August 2021


851-capacity Nsawam Prison hosting 3000 inmates – Prisons Service

Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prison Service, CSP Courage Atsem Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prison Service, CSP Courage Atsem

The male ward of the Nsawam medium-security prison has the capacity to hold 851 inmates but currently has over 3000 inmates, causing congestion and overcrowding at the facility.

This was disclosed by the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prison Service, CSP Courage Atsem, in an interview on Dwabremu with Afia Papabi on CTV on Wednesday, 25 August 2021.

He noted that all the country’s prisons are meant to hold 9,945 inmates but they are holding some 13,323 inmates.

This means there is an excess capacity of about 3,323.

He noted that although it is a known fact that the prison, especially, the Nsawam male ward, is congested, the same cannot be said for others across the country.

Mr Atsem said: “We’ve a total inmate capacity of 13,268 that goes against our capacity of 9,945 across the country, giving us an excess of 3,323 and, so, the place can be congested sometimes, but I must say that it’s not across board”.

“While some prisons are congested, others are doing below capacity. Nsawam female, for instance, has a capacity of 200 but hardly do we get to even 100 inmates, so, if you get to Nsawam female, for instance, it’s a place you cannot describe as congested.”

“Juxtapose that against the male side. A total capacity of 851, we have over 3,000 so you can see the difference. So, when it gets to the male side, usually, it is congested but I must say that things are improving…some time ago, we were doing about 15,000 inmates but as we talk now, we are doing over 13,000, so, there is a reduction and I must say there are a number of things being done like the Church of Pentecost coming on board…”

Touching on feeding, Mr Atsem stated that they have a challenge giving the inmates nutritious food because each inmate is entitled to GH¢1.80p a day for feeding, which is inadequate for a sumptuous meal.

To that end, the spokesperson for the Prison Service said they encourage relatives to bring the inmates food on a daily basis to complement the government’s effort at feeding them.

“We have a challenge with nutritious feeding for inmates because as I speak, they are fed with GHS1:80p per day. That, you will agree with me, is woefully inadequate and that is supposed to be for the whole day and I might say it’s a big challenge but there are few things we do to supplement”.

“For instance, we go into agriculture, so, we get some of the farm produce that we use to support the feeding and then we also get donations and these donations are also used in supplementing what is provided by government,” he stated.

“So, it may not be as nutritious as we want but at the end of the day, we are able to give them something that will sustain them while they are in custody. We, therefore, encourage even more that family members will bring food because there are some people who will not want to eat what is served on a particular day and, so, if a family member brings the person’s favourite [food], that is allowed”.

“You can always bring food to your inmate while in custody. You can also visit the inmate; it is just this period of COVID that we are trying to limit the numbers coming from outside, so, we do not expose our inmates too much with external contact,” he added.

He explained that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Service has suspended contact visits “but if you are bringing items meant for a family member in custody, those are allowed.”

“You can bring the items, the items will be inspected at the gate, the inmate will be there standing at a distance just to watch what is being done and then once everything is done and we’ve thoroughly searched, it is given to the inmate for his use.”