Ghana Prisons call for legislative instrument to back non custodial sentences

Mrs Emma Sawyer-Laryea, Volta Regional Commander of Prisons, on Tuesday called for the passage of the necessary legislative instrument to empower the judiciary to administer a wide array of non-custodial measures.

She stressed that non-custodial sentences such as community service, verbal sanctions, confiscation and parole were necessary to reduce prison overcrowding and government expenditure in the upkeep of prisoners.

Mrs Sawyer-Laryea made the call at the opening of the 2011 Criminal Assizes in Ho.

She said for instance, imposition of heavy fines in addition to minimum sentence of five years without remission could be imposed on drug offenders with cases of misdemeanour involving families settled through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Mrs Sawyer-Laryea said imprisonment of people below 18 years must be avoided whenever possible so that young people did not develop criminal identity from their formative years.

She commended the courts for the collaboration during the previous year and urged judges to periodically visit prison establishments to familiarize themselves with prevailing conditions there.

Mrs Sawyer-Laryea prayed for a speedy trial in the year so that people on remand could have access to justice in good time.

Justice Anthony Kofi Abada, Supervising High Court Judge, commended all stakeholders for their cooperation in the past year and called for concerted efforts for a successful 2011.

“It will take the cooperation of all of us – the police, judiciary, jurors, prison officers, the police and the media – for us to reduce the carnage on our roads, defilement cases and the upsurge in armed robbery,” he said.

Justice Abada particularly called for support for the police so they could keep the “balance between freedom and security.”

Justice Kofi Essel Mensah, a High Court Judge, lamented the practice among families in the region to abandon their relatives who were in breach of the law.

He described that practice as unfortunate and that it was making it difficult for people in conflict with the law to get the best out of the judicial system.

Justice Essel Mensah thus charged people in the region to have a “forgiving heart” this year for their relatives facing prosecution and help them in their moments of trial.

He pledged the preparedness of the court to deliver justice to the satisfaction of all.

Colonel Cyril Necku (Rtd), Deputy Volta Regional Minister, commended the judiciary for its work over the years.

He urged the Courts to perform their duties diligently to bring justice, peace and harmony to the people in cognisance of the “Better Ghana Agenda.”

Mr Kodzo-Kuma Dzanku, Secretary of the Volta Region Bar Association, dismissed the notion that members of the bench were responsible for delays in the administration of justice.

He explained that administering justice was team work and that one institution could not be singled out for the perceived ineffectiveness of the system.

Madam Felicia Otchere-Darko, Chief State Attorney, said a total of 33 murder cases, seven attempted murder and 15 rape cases were billed for 2011in the region.

A murder case between the Republic and one Asempa Paul, a farmer at Kpalime-Duga was the first case mentioned to open the legal year.

Source: GNA

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