They were also of the view that the country looked for a more proactive approach of dealing with drug users rather than keeping them in custody which over the years has not solved the problem of drug abuse and usage.
An alternative to imprisonment of such drug users could be rehabilitation and counselling, medical care and education.
These suggestions came to light when the POS Foundation presented the content of the draft on Non-Custodial Sentencing Policy in a regional public consultation to consolidate efforts to enrich the Zero Draft ‘Community Service Bill’ under a Non-custodial Sentencing Policy.
Community sentence or alternative sentencing was a collective name in the criminal justice for all the different ways in which the courts could punish a defendant who has been convicted of committing an offence other than jail or prison term or capital punishment.
They include fines, various mandatory but open therapy and course, restriction orders and loss or suspension of civil rights.
Mrs Ella Diaba, the Western Regional President of the Ghana Bar Association, said with soaring figures accumulating in Ghana’s prisons, it was only prudent that the country found alternative means to create avenue for benefit of society rather than expend more resources for maintenance and expansion of prisons.
It is estimated that the government spends GHC4000 cedis annually on a prisoner without any real returns on investment.
The prison population at the end of 2017 stood at 13,700.
The Lawyer said, “With the country’s limited resources, it would be unwise not to find alternative means to utilize the correctional system or non-custodial approach”.
Mr John Bismark Ackon, the Regional Director of CHRAJ, said the CHRAJ in a research conducted in 1995 indicated the need for non-custodial sentences for detainees in vulnerable situations such as young persons, the elderly, chronically ill, pregnant and nursing mothers and persons living with severe disabilities.
He said the subject was of great interest to the Commission and the nation as a whole and said pre-trial detention and the incarceration of offenders for minor and non-violent offences and crimes must be relooked into.
Similarly, Mr Ackon said one of the ills plaguing the society is the misuse of drugs in the country.
He said the use of weed with its associated issues made it more of a public health concern and merits the needed attention.
Mr Ackon said the drug policy reforms monitoring and enforcement, proliferation of drug abuse, decriminalization and control of access among others were issues for consideration.
The reforms according to Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Director of POS, the Foundation would create access to effective evidence based treatment for people struggling with marijuana addiction or substance use disorders and as such wider prevention policies and programmes.