Assistant Superintendent of Prison (ASP) Johann Nartey, the Regional Public Relations Officer of the Brong-Ahafo Prison Command has appealed to Parliament to expedite the passage of the Custodial Sentence Bill to ease the country’s prisons from overcrowding.
ASP Nartey made the appeal in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) about the challenges of the Command in Sunyani, saying that the nation would benefit immensely from custodial sentencing since convicts would be punished to work in the community to serve as deterrent to others.
ASP Nartey said the absence of such a law made culprits with minor offences to be sentenced by the Courts to prison cells resulting in overcrowding.
He expressed worry that overcrowding was a major challenge of the Sunyani Central Prison as the current inmate population was 847 instead of a capacity of 450 inmates.
ASP Nartey stated that 209 out of the total number of inmates were remand prisoners while 638 are also sentenced prisoners, excluding 10 female prisoners and one female remand prisoner.
He said the situation was dangerous and serious since the outbreak of any communicable disease like Chicken Pox and Tuberculosis would endanger the lives of the inmates and officers.
ASP Nartey therefore stressed the need for expansion of the existing structures to be able to accommodate the rising number of convicts being jailed daily.
He appealed to the general public, Non-Governmental and charitable organisations, corporate institutions and philanthropists to assist the Command with the provision of disinfectants for the benefit of the inmates.
Poor feeding situation of the inmates was another concern since the inmates for the past seven years were still being fed on GhC1.80 pesewas daily, he lamented.
ASP Nartey pleaded with government for upward adjustment of the amount for feeding since “the prison is a rehabilitation place but no hungry person can be reformed”, he added.
He announced the Sunyani Central Prison has a backyard garden where vegetables were grown by the inmates, rear rabbits and engage in mushroom production to supplement their meals.