Prisons all over the world serve only two purposes; to punish and to reform. It does not serve any other purposes apart from the aforementioned.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the prison conditions in Ghana and to also find out whether the prisons we have in the country are truly serving their purposes.
Ghana is a signatory to a number of United Nations Conventions concerning the prison service, the handling of prisoners and must always ensure that it does not do things that breach any provision in the conventions.
Even though prisoners to inmates are supposed to be punished and reformed at the same time, their health and how they are handled is very key and must always conform to international standards.
Unfortunately, Ghana cannot be said to be adhering to international standards. The two major issues are the overcrowding in prisons and the low level of care given to inmates.
A trip to any of the major prisons in the country would break your heart. You would notice poor ventilation, unhygienic cells, overcrowding, poor quality of food, poor health care, etc.
I must admit that governments have taken steps to help assuage the situation but that has not been enough. Initiatives are taken every year to bring some sanity to the prisons service in Ghana but it appears we are not trying enough.
One of the major causes of the challenges faced by the prisons service in Ghana is the issue of custodial sentencing. Walk into any of our prisons and you would realize someone is in prison for stealing a cat, smoking one row of marijuana or stealing as little as 5 cedis. What is even sad is the fact that a lot of suspects on remand spend years in prison without trial.
Can't we punish petty offenders by letting them engage in community labour for a specified period instead of applying custodial sentencing?
A lot of people die in prison because of the poor conditions they are faced with apart from the trauma and depression they go through as a result of their incarcerations.
It appears that the government is doing its part but it's obviously not enough. In most instances, inmates return back to society more hardened and brainwashed largely due to the circumstances and situations in the prisons they were taken to for reformation.
I urge the government and all stakeholders who matter in this regard to ramp up efforts to sanitize the prison system in this country so that at the end of the day, the purpose for which the prisons were built, would be served.
Below are samples of images I have gathered for your perusal and observation;
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