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General News of Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Source: The Finder

Prison leader regrets lack of medicine in prisons

The national president of prison inmates in Ghana has said the lack of essential drugs in the prisons to cure “common illnesses” is having a deteriorating health impact on prisoners.

The gentle-looking prisoners’ leader, a convicted police officer (name withheld), said inmates are in dire need of medicine in treating illnesses such malaria, skin rashes and bodily pains.

He said though the prison authorities are up to the task in ensuring their protection and welfare, they are handicapped in providing the necessary medical needs of inmates due to shortage of medical supplies, saying: “At least there should be an ambulance to convey critically ill inmates to seek emergency care.”

The national president of prisoners spoke to this reporter at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons on the leadership structure among the prisoners, known as the ‘Black or Star Coats,' when Mighty Chapel International presented GH?10,000 worth of assorted food items to the inmates.

He explained that the Black Coats are a group of nominated prisoners, comprising 45 prisoners, who perform various leadership duties over the entire inmates in the prison.

He said the Black Coats supervise and ensure discipline among inmates, particularly making sure that rules and regulations are strictly followed.

At the top leadership of the inmates are the national president and his assistant, who are supported by 43 other members making the governing body of the prison’s Black Coats. Below them are the leaders at the various cell blocks that separate inmates from their various crimes of conviction.

“The inmates respect our decisions and do whatever we tell them. They also report their concerns and grievances to us for redress, and where an issue is beyond us for solution, we forward it to the prison officers on duty.”

The national president of prisoners stated that, as Black Coats, they are privileged to serve their colleagues. He refuted the notion that they sometimes abuse their positions to molest other inmates.