Let’s look for ways to decongest prisons — Most Rev. Yaw Anokye
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Kumasi, Most Rev. Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye, has called on the government to take a second look at ways to decongest the nation’s prisons.
He explained that although a lot of discussions had taken place on the issue, there was the need for a second look at how to make alternative dispute resolution and non-custodial sentencing feature prominently in the country’s jurisprudence.
The Metropolitan Archbishop, therefore, called for stakeholder engagement on the issue of decongesting the prisons to deepen collaboration among all stakeholders in the country.
Most Rev. Anokye made the call at the Catholic Church’s annual visitation to the Kumasi Central Prison just before the dawn of the new year.
The visit was the 49th in the series to celebrate Mass with the inmates, socialise with and present gifts to them.
The church also presented items to the prison, among which were toiletries, confectionery, rice, gari, kenkey, cooking oil, used clothing, sandals and cooked food.
It also donated sanitary pads and an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks.
Aside from sharing the Word of God and presenting gifts, the event was also an occasion for raising funds to support various prison projects geared towards improving the prison and the lives of the inmates.
Benefit of decongestion
Most Rev. Anokye said many nations sought to decongest their prisons because of the benefits to be derived thereof, including reduction in the huge cost involved in taking care of the inmates, particularly when some jail terms did not merit the offences committed.
For example, he explained, the nation ended up spending huge sums of money on a person jailed for stealing a mobile phone or plantain and this could amount to a thousand times more than the cost of the item stolen.
The Metropolitan Archbishop said the Catholic Bishops Conference was ready to partner the government and other stakeholders to work towards decongesting the prisons.
The Ashanti Regional Commander of the Prisons Service, Deputy Director of Prisons Mr Samuel Owusu-Amponsah, commended the Catholic Church for its role in seeking good health, happiness and well-being for the inmates.
He urged other churches to emulate the Catholic Church in its approach to preaching, supporting and promoting the development of prisons in the region and the country as a whole.
The regional prisons commander appealed to society and families of ex-convicts to accept them when they came home, so that they did not return to prison.
He also reminded ex-convicts to make sure they changed their ways when they found themselves outside the prison, so that people would accept them into their communities and workplaces.