A total of 436 recruits of the Ghana Prisons Service have passed out of the Prison Officers Training School in Accra, to augment the existing staff strength of the service and enhance operational capacity.
The Recruit Course 111, made up of 272 males and 164 females underwent eight months of classroom and field training in various aspects of prison security from September 2018 to March 2019.
At their passing-out parade on Friday, the Minister of the Interior, Ambrose Dery charged them to uphold the standards of the service and respect the rights of prisoners as they discharge their mandate.
He said the government would provide the needed support to the service to upgrade the knowledge of officers for them to be abreast with contemporary prison management issues.
On overcrowding in prisons, he revealed that as of the day of the parade the prisons nationwide were 52 per cent overcrowded with the remand population constituting 12.7per cent of the total inmates’ population.
The Ghana Prisons Service website puts the population at 15,101.
To address the situation, he said the government was pursuing the “Justice for All Programme” and had set up three “In-Prisons Courts” to help speed up both remand and appeal cases at the Nsawam, Kumasi and Tamale Prisons.
Mr Dery said the establishment of prison camp farms was being used as a decongestion and that under the “Planting for Food and Jobs” initiative, five tractors, four mechanical planters and their accessories had been provided to expand prisons farming activities.
Additionally, he said Ejura Traditional Council had provided 640 acres of land at Ejura for the establishment of a camp prison aimed at producing large quantities of maize and livestock to supplement the ration of inmates.
The Church of Pentecost, according to the minister had pledged to construct a prototype Camp Prisons at Ejura and extend similar support to four other prisons in the country.
Under the “One District One Factory” initiative, he said the government had aided a partnership between the service and the Brompton Portfolio Limited for the production of paper products at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison.
“Such partnership will no doubt ensure the effective utilisation of available prison labour and set prisoners on a path of a productive life after discharge from prison.”
“Government is committed to ensuring continuous improvement in the situation of prison officers and inmates,”Mr Dery said.
Present at the parade was Mr Patrick D Missah, Director General of Prisons Service, accompanied by representatives of sister security agencies.
Recruit Officer Paul Sakyi was adjudged the Best All Round Recruit Officer while Recruit Officer Mumuni Rashad Ibn was first in order of merit.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR