‘Introduce non-custodial sentence’

Judges of the Justice For All Programme (JFAP) have called for the introduction of non-custodial sentencing policy for minor offences to help decongest prisons across the country.

A Court of Appeal Judge, who is the lead judge for the JFAP, Justice Clemence Honyenugah and High Court Judge, Justice Constant Hometowu in separate interviews with The Ghanaian Times said there was the need for a non-custodial sentence to ease pressures on existing prison facilities.

They made the call after a JFAP sitting at the Akuse Prisons on Friday.

Justice Honyenugah explained that when such a policy was implemented it would greatly help reform people who rather become hardened criminals in prison for minor offences.

He recalled that in 2014 the issue came up, however, nothing positive came out of it and called on the Attorney General and Minister for Justice and the Interior Minister to take up the matter.

Justice Honyenugah said if non-custodial sentence was introduced, the Criminal Procedure Act, (Act 30), would be amended to address the situation.

“That will mean that the state won’t waste a lot of money on feeding and caring for the inmates in the over populated prisons across the country.

For his part, Justice Hometowu, said that such a policy would give way to the introduction of community services, among other things.

He said that would ensure that rights of inmates were respected, since Ghana revered human rights.

Justice Hometowu called on all the various stakeholders to rise up and ensure an overhaul of the criminal justice system for efficient justice delivery.

The JFAP programme was introduced in 2007 through the effort of the then Attorney General, Joe Ghartey, with the aim of alleviating prison overcrowding in the country.

Currently, the programme is organised by the Judicial Service and facilitated by POS foundation, a human rights firm, with support from other stakeholders.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme 


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