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General News of Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Source: Ghanaian Times

Discharged prisoners to get cash assistance

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The Prison Service is to financially support inmates to set up their own business on their discharge.

Beneficiaries of this new scheme will be given entrepreneurial skills whilst in prison alongside acquisition of other knowledge.

Mr. Michael Kofi Bansah, the acting Director-General of the Prisons Service, who disclosed this, in an interview with the Times at Nsawam explained that the initiative had been designed to help the ex-convicts to live meaningfully and integrate into the society.

He said a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the service and Accra-based Jemko Consultant to roll-out the initiative.

Mr. Bansah said "with financial support, ex-convicts can overcome societal stigmatisation".

He said: "what purpose will it serve if at the end of the day, the ex-convict returns to society without any skill to help him operate as a law-abiding citizen with means to survive".

He said that "the vision of the Prison Service was to restore the unity of relationship between offenders, the public and general society."

Mr. Bansah said the Prison Service was therefore, bent on reforming and rehabilitating law-abiding citizens who realise their mistakes and improve their behaviour so that they would not repeat their offending behaviour.

He said the sole determinant of internal peace and community safety dwelt on efficient correctional mechanism put in place to reform deviants who were by-products of the social system.

Mr. Bansah called for a review of the legislation which barred ex-convicts from being employed into the public service.

He said "the law as it stands now, is a major setback which undermines the whole concept of prison rehabilitation programmes since the government is the major employer in the country”.

Mr. Bansall said since the Prison Service had introduced various levels of educational and vocational training to prisoners to equip inmates with skills "where do the inmates go after acquiring skills and certificates," adding that this is a burning issue which has to be addressed so that the programmes will be sustainable and beneficial to the inmates themselves and society at large.

He said when ex-convicts were endowed with entrepreneurial and employable skills it raised their self-esteem as a result of the built capacity to generate income to fend for themselves.

Mr. Bansah entreated society to receive discharged inmates warmly into the society "because if they are scorned, any act of non-acceptance will disturb our reformation and rehabilitation role".

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