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General News of Saturday, 14 April 2007

Source: Daily Graphic

Ghanaian Prisons now 'Crime factories'

The Chairman of the Ghana Prisons Council, Mr Ashitey Adjei, has expressed concern about the fact that the nation's prisons have become what he calls "crime factories", instead of helping to curb crime in society.

He said although the Ghana Prisons Service was doing its best under the deplorable conditions, there were still reported cases of physical abuse and overcrowding.

He said prisoners also had inadequate access to physical and mental health care, which gave them less chance for rehabilitation. He was speaking at the inauguration of an eight-member Regional Prisons Committee to oversee the affairs of the service in the Central Region for a four-year term.

It has the Central Regional Minister, Nana Ato Arthur, as Chairman. The other members are Nana Kwamena Ansah, the President of the Central Regional House of Chiefs, Dr Aaron Offei, the Central Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Amakra Otabil, Rev Asare Danso, Mr Tweneboah Kodua and Madam Patience Klinogo.

Mr Adjei noted that such conditions rather turned pickpockets into hardened criminals who got re-arrested in a relatively short time after their release, saying the time had come for the prisons to really reform prisoners and called for a complete behavioural change towards prisoners.

The regional minister noted that technological advancement and socio-economic development had given a new dimension to crime. He said rapid development in transportation and communications, as a result of globalization had also facilitated transnational and regional crimes.

Nana Arthur noted that the negative impact of those worrying situations was clearly evident in the large number of remand prisoners, the high rate of prisons population and the poor conditions in the country's prisons.

He said the slow rate of investigations, as well as protracted court proceedings, had brought the country's criminal justice system under serious pressure.

Nana Arthur charged the Service to raise funds to supplement government's support.

Nana Kwamena Ansah said the Committee was aware of the enormity of the problems facing the Prisons Service and therefore promised that the Committee would do its best to help solve the problems facing the service.