Penal reform planned for prisons

The Ghana Prisons Service in collaboration with other partners is planning to introduce penal reforms to reduce overcrowding and speed up the legal process, the Accra-based Daily Graphic reported Richard Kuuire, the organisation's director general, as saying recently.

The planned reforms include allowing minor offenders to undergo community service under supervision, suspending the sentences of pregnant women until they have given birth and introducing a parole system to allow prisoners to be released for good behaviour before completing their sentences, the daily reported on Tuesday.

Kuuire said there were currently 11,200 prisoners nationwide against a capacity of 6,500. The overcrowding was due to the fact that most of the prisoners were on remand, he was reported as saying, adding that discussions were being held with the Attorney General's Department and the Judicial Service on ways to speed up the execution of justice.

President John Kufuor said in April that Ghana's resources were stretched and prisons did not rank very high in the order of budgetary priorities. Speaking after swearing in members of the Ghana Prison Service Council in the capital, Accra, Kufuor asked administrators of the country's prisons to be innovative and employ resources at their disposal to improve conditions while government sought funds for major rehabilitation works.