Crime & Punishment of Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Source: GNA

Gov’t to introduce non-custodian sentences

The Ministry of the Interior is working to introduce non-custodian sentences to cut down the number of prisoners in the country’s prisons, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Sector Minister, said on Monday.

He said the ministry was putting measures in place and expressed the hope that by the end of the year measures would be in place to reduce the numbers of prisoners in custody.

Taking his turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra, Mr Ahwoi said already, the “justice for all” programme, introduced a few years ago, had also succeeded in reducing remand population in prisons from 4,285 in 2008 to 3,027 in 2013.

He said to enhance the “justice for all” programme paralegal units were established in 2013 to provide technical support to the judicial system in reviewing the backlog of pending cases and recommending actions to be taken.

Mr Ahwoi said currently, the 100 per cent overcrowded rate at the Ankaful Annex prisons had been reduced to zero per cent due to the fact that convicted prisoners were transferred to Ankaful Maximum Security prison built to hold over 2,000 prisoners but was housing only 400 prisoners.

The Minister said there had been reduction in major crime rate, especially armed robbery cases in the country and that a total of 889, 158 crime cases were recorded between 2010 and 2013 out of which 4,741, about 0.53 per cent were armed robbery cases.

He said the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) would also collaborate with the Prisons Service to establish reformation and rehabilitation centre to manage drug abuse and related offences in the prisons.

NACOB also recorded a total of 41 narcotic drug cases which led to the arrest of 40 suspected persons while nine persons were convicted for narcotic drug offences.

On the recent gruesome murder of Naa Andani Dasana, the overlord of Bimbilla, and five others, the Minister expressed his deepest regrets on the incidence and said the investigations had started to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He called on citizens in the area to remain calm while assuring them that security had been beefed up in the area to ensure law and order and the protection of lives and property.

“The curfew times for Bimbilla, Nakpanduri and Alavanyo-Nkonya have been reviewed accordingly,” he said.

Mr Ahwoi mentioned some of the challenges as increasing involvement of youth in the commission of crime, inadequate fire hydrants, non-observance of building regulations and indiscipline that made firefighting in markets and homes difficult.