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Non-custodial sentence is long overdue in Ghana’s correctional system – Murtala

Member of Parliament for the Tamale Central constituency Hon. Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed has stated that non-custodial sentences for offenders are long overdue in the country’s criminal correctional system.

He lamented the lack of non-custodial sentences in the prison system that has resulted in the congestion of the country’s prisons with many suspected criminals clogging the system on remand awaiting sentence.

Mr Mohammed was speaking on the back of the protest by the inmates of the Sekondi Central Prison over the inadequate food provided to them by the prison authorities there. According to the prison authorities, an average of GH¢1.80 is spent on food rations, which they are protesting to demand more from the authorities to provide them with healthy meals in that prison.

He told TV3’s Johnnie Hughes on the New Day show on TV3 Monday May 24 that “non-custodial sentences are long overdue, look there are people who have been remanded at the prisons without even trial, even in a country where we have democracy. And I’m not blaming any specific government, I remember there is a gentleman who does some documentaries in the prisons. It’s shocking that at this age and time we still have some of these instances.
“But the only immediate solution is for this government to cough up the money to take care of those who are there. I will give you a classical example, I went there and I was shocked that even nose masks government could not provide nose masks for the inmates. I provided the nose masks for the Tamale Prisons, this is what happened, I went there and I checked their medical store, not even paracetamol was there.

“I went there, you know the very first time I went there, you know they also form part of my constituents. When I went there I was shocked, former President Mahama’s son has a foundation so I reached out to them and they gave us a lot of items to give to the prisons. But the nose masks and food items are provided for the prison, soap and others, it is not only there, everywhere. It tells you the decay and disaster under which the people of this country are living”.

For his part, Mr Dennis Edward Aboagye, former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Akuapem North Municipal Assembly said the GH¢1.80 provided for their food ration is woefully inadequate to give them any healthy and wholesome meals for any adult in the prison.

“I think GH¢1.80 is woefully inadequate to provide any proper meal for any adult, irrespective of where they are, even in prisons, hospitals and wherever you find yourself. So I think this is something the prison service needs to do something about. This has been an age long problem, I think at some point it was even 80 pesewas, then GH¢1.20 and it was moved to GHC 1.50, then later it was moved to GH¢1.80. I don’t think it’s enough to provide proper, nutritious food for any adult. You and I know that we don’t have too many minors in our prisons, so basically a lot of them are adults.

“And for you to even spend GH¢1.80, that is what led us to see some of the things we see in the documentaries, a lot of them are highly malnutritioned, a lot of them have infections, a lot of them are looking very sick. Because for me, I think the GH¢1.80 will not enable the prison service or the catering service to be able to give them any proper meal. And we usually see the kind of food served in these prisons. I think that, if they are protesting, it is their right and I would encourage them to protest. They should protest until those who are supposed to take action on this actually take some action”.

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