The Ghana Prisons Service, as of May 2, 2022, has an inmate population of 14,097, which far exceeds the national authorized figure of 9,945.
Mr Isaac Kofi Egyir, the Director-General (DG) Ghana Prisons Service, said the issue of overcrowding remained a challenge to the Service as large numbers of inmates competed for the limited resources.
He said the Service has, however, taken steps to reduce overcrowding and improve the prison conditions.
Mr Egyir said this in a speech read on his behalf by Gloria Essandoh, the Chief Legal Officer of the Service, at a training programme for court reporters in Accra.
It was on the theme: ” Understanding the Criminal Justice System of Ghana for Effective Rapportage.”
Mr Egyir mentioned the construction of a 240- capacity camp at Ejura in the Ashanti Region by the Church of Pentecost as well as three other camps at Nsawam, Obuasi and Damango.
He lauded the Justice for All Programme by the Judicial Service, leading to a reduction in overcrowding.
The overcrowding rate has reduced from 72.41 per cent in 2007 to 35.11 per cent as of September 27, 2021, he said, attributing the reduction to the Justice for All Programme.
The Programme has also led to the admission of 1,563 persons to bail, while 180 persons had been convicted, and 28 persons were referred to the Psychiatric Hospital, among others.
The DG said anybody at all could be in prison, hence the need to scale up efforts to meet international best practices.
The Service is currently developing a health policy to strengthen healthcare with the aim of ensuring optimum health for both inmates and officers.
“The Ghana Prisons Service has also developed a draft Prison Bill with well-delineated functions, including implementing programmes, to enhance reintegration of prisoners back into normal social life,” Mr Egyir said.
“More specifically, it aims at enhancing focus on correction and prioritising reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners in conformity with modern correctional practices to ensure smooth integration of prisoners into society.”
On education, Mr Egyir said in 2018, a total of 420 inmates, comprising 349 prisoners and 71 juveniles, were enrolled in the formal and informal educational system.
“In the year 2020, there were 250 adults and 23 juveniles in senior high schools across the country,” he said.
“500 adults and 84 juveniles were in junior high schools. 34 of them, comprising 28 juveniles, sat for the Basic Education Certificate Examination and recorded 100 per cent.”
The Service and other civil society organizations continued to offer jobs in tailoring and carpentry, among others, to the inmates to make them independent after serving their sentences.
He lauded POS Foundation, a human rights organization, for building the capacity of personnel to become paralegal officers.
Mr Jonathan Osei Wusu, the Executive Director, POS Foundation, said the training was to strengthen the capacity of the media on the ethics, terminologies language of the Service, and the way forward.
It was also to assist reporters to understand the processes of reporting on Criminal Justice issues and update them on happenings within the sector, as well as the progress made, he said.
The training was organized by the POS Foundation, the Judicial Service, and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.