All seven prisons in the Central Region are operating below capacity according to Superintendent Vincent Zinel, the Central Regional Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service.
The PRO said, there were challenges in all prisons across the world and Ghana was no exception.
He said the Ankaful Maximum Prison was the second state-of-the-art prison complex in Africa and the first in West Africa and therefore, the Region strived to achieve its mandate to provide safe custody of convicted persons and ensure their reformation and rehabilitation for their successful integration into society.
Supt. Ziniel was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in reaction to the U.S. Department of State’s 2021 Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which cited Ghana as having a life-threatening prison system.
The report released on Tuesday, April 12, tagged Ghana's prisons as not only having harsh conditions, but life-threatening due to overcrowding, inadequate sanitary conditions, lack of medical care, physical abuse, and food shortages.
It said while prisoners had access to potable water, food was inadequate with routinely lacked fruit, vegetables, or meat, forcing prisoners to rely on charitable donations and their families to supplement their diet.
Supt. Ziniel, who indicated that the Region had a total of 2,851 prisoners undergoing reformation and rehabilitation in various prions, said, prisons in the region largely had adequate rooms with standby utility services designed to ensure safe, secure and humane custody of all prisoners in line with international practices.
Supporting his claims, he stated that the Ankaful Maximum Prisons with a capacity of 2000 inmates had only 1,419 while the Ankaful Main Camp Prison with a 700-capacity hosted 530 inmates.
Others including the Ankaful Annex Prison had 470 inmates but had a capacity of 500, Ankaful Communicable Diseases Prison had 70 inmates with a capacity of 100 and Winneba Local with a capacity of 200 but hosted 135
The Osamkrom and Awutu-Camp prisons had 13 and 114 inmates respectively with capacities of 200.
Touching on the sanitation situation in prisons in the Region, particularly the lack of toilet facilities as alleged in the report, Superintendent Ziniel explained that there were toilet facilities in all rooms and outside the prison parameters for all to use.
The Ankaful Prisons, he noted had toilets and detergents in each room to enable them to live dignified lives to ease the rehabilitation process.
He stated that more could be done to improve feeding grants and medical care for inmates and called on the public to continue the support the service to deliver on its mandate.
He reminded the public of their aim to improve the safety, security, and transparency of Ghana’s prison system, thereby increasing public confidence in the justice system.
They were working to protect society from crime and to reduce reoffending, which could only be achieved if the period in prison was used to prepare the prisoners for reintegration into society upon release to lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life.
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