Ghana’s prisons are overcrowded by 45.50 per cent, according to statistics provided the Ghana Prisons Service.
According to the data, Ghana’s prisons currently have a total inmate population of 14,368, when it is only authorised to accommodate a population of 9,875.
Out of the current prison population, only 11,684 of the inmates in the prisons have been convicted while the remaining 2,684 are on remand.
According to Rev Dr Stephen Yenusom Wengam, Chairman of the Ghana Prisons Service Council, Ghana’s prisons are in a deplorable state and need both state and private support to turn things around.
He noted that the situation makes it daunting for the prisons to effectively deliver on its reformatory mandate. As a result, inmates who are committed to prison sentences come out hardened than they were before going to prison.
Some of these ex-convicts, he noted, have come out to commit more heinous crimes and continue to be a threat to society.
He mentioned that in some parts of the world, prisons have become easy recruitment centres for extremists, who infiltrate the facilities to radicalise the inmates, adding that it was dangerous for Ghana to keep its prisons the way they currently are.
“Until we commit resources to our prisons, no Ghanaian is safe,” he said when he, together with some officials of the service, paid a visit to The Finder on Wednesday.
Giving some details of the state of Ghana’s prisons, the Chairman noted that out of the 43 prisons in the country, only three were purposely built; the rest are old forts and castles that have been converted to prisons.
Due to the infrastructural deficit, leading to overcrowding in the prisons, inmates die needlessly from preventable communicable diseases.
The Prisons Service has no single hospital or doctor”, he lamented
The prisons, he said, are so under-resourced that prison wardens transport inmates in public transport.
He said although government recently resourced the service with some vehicles, “they were a drop in the ocean”.
On feeding, the chairman revealed that inmates currently feed on GH?1.80 a day.
He recounted that although the service has viable projects it could explore to generate some funds, it is financially handicapped to undertake those projects.
He mentioned, for instance, that the Prisons Service has 15,000 acres of land for agriculture production, but which has been lying fallow due to lack of farm implements to commence any viable venture.
He, therefore, appealed to corporate and private individuals to support the service in its effort to transform the state of prisons in the country.
Assistant Director of Prisons, Dominic Nicholas Arthur said the prisons abound in inmates who have many talents and skills that can be harnessed to transform the prisons in the country.
He said due to dwindling government support, the service has registered a company to enable it bid for contracts as a way of shoring up its internally generated funds.
Chief Executive Officer of Marble Communications Group, publishers of Finder group of newspapers, Mr Ibrahim Mohamed Awal pledged his company’s support to help the service in their endeavour.