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Judicial system must consider non-custodial sentences – BT Baba

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A former Deputy Director General of the Ghana Prison Service, Benson Tongo Baba is advocating the implementation of non-custodial prison sentences to help manage the numbers of prisoners under lock and key in the country.

He said due to the overpopulation of prisons in Ghana coupled with the inadequacy of funds allocated to cater to the needs of the said prisoners, Ghana’s best bet at managing the negative consequences of the prison system is to implement non-custodial sentences for minor offences and first-time offenders.

In a recent interview, the former Deputy Director of Ghana Prison Service who doubles the MP for the Talensi Constituency in the Upper East Region extolled the ingenuity of the Prison offers currently manning Ghana’s prisons stressing that “with the system in the prison service, the officers are performing magic.”

“It is only with the support of religious bodies, philanthropists and other organisations that the prison service is able to stand on its feet to feed the prisoners. Prisoners are supposed to be clothed so that if you see a prisoner, you can identify him or her. Now, everyone wears his own clothes except a few that have been prepared for when they are going to court. It is a communal dress.”

He said this when he spoke in recent on A1 Radio.

Mr. BT Baba pressed for the non-custodial sentences saying “the Bill must come so that we have alternative means of incarceration so that it is not always that it will be, I sentence you to this imprisonment.”

“The judge would look at you, before he would do that, the Social Welfare would have done background checks to find out what society you belong to, where you live and whether you have been known to be a trouble shooter. If you are not a trouble shooter and you are a peaceful person, but this thing that happened was a one-off, then they can make a decision on which of the alternatives they should use.”

The MP said prison systems where prisoners can be furloughed for periods of time to visit home and intermittently offer temporary reprieve for the prison systems should e considered.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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