Pass Community Service Bill to cut down government’s expenditure on prison inmates-LRC

A Programs Officer at the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) has called for the passage of the Community Service Bill into law to cut down the government’s expenditure on prison inmates in Ghana.

Speaking during a public education workshop on the community service bill held in Tolon in the northern region, Mr. Robert Tetteh Nomo Jnr, explained that the community service bill when passed into an act will provide the usage of other noncustodial sentencing approaches for convicted offenders for certain types of offences that are considered as misdemeanours instead of the usual custodial sentencing.

He said in most cases less experienced offenders go to prison for minor offences and end up learning new criminal skills from the hardened criminals therefore when they are released and it becomes difficult for the ex-convicts to integrate back into the society, they engage in more crimes and end up back in prisons, therefore the community service bill will help in the reduction of repeat offenders in the country.

Mr. Nomo Jnr also mentioned that the bill when passed into law will help offenders give back to their communities and also help them not to dissociate themselves from their families, friends and loved ones as required for their emotional and psychological well-being.

“It is important to note that, when this bill is passed to law, it will lessen the government’s expenditure on prison services and the burden on the taxpayers” He explained

The Programs Officer at LRC mentioned that offences with a punishment of not more than 3 years, misdemeanours such as crimes listed in the criminal offences act 1960 (Act 29), assault or battery supplying drugs or instruments to be used for abortion, threatening another person, unlawfully or intentionally causing harm to public or private properties not exceeding 100 cedis unlawful and negligently permitting the escape of a prisoner, falsifying a receipt committing forgery among others are some crimes captured under the community service bill but was quick to add that, murder, attempted murder and manslaughter, rape, robbery, causing harm by the use of an offensive weapon, human trafficking, treason among others are offences that the community service bill excludes.

“In Ghana, having this system also working for us like in Zimbabwe and other African countries, it will help decongest our prisons and address some of the injustices and challenges we have in the justice sector, so I believe with the participants here today, we need them to spread the word, we need them to push and keep the pressure to keep their voices high for this bill to be passed into an act.” Mr. Nomo Jnr added

Participants at the public education workshop were excited about the program as they describe the workshop as an eye-opener for them.
Hajia Zaharawu Amin, chairwoman for the Tolon Market Women Association said: “I want my MP, Hon Habib and his colleagues in Parliament to pass this bill to law because we can use the offenders to do labour work that will develop this Tolon town.”

The public education workshop on the community service bill was organised by the Legal Resources Centre with funding from USAID under the USAID Justice Sector Support activity.

By: Prince Kwame Tamakloe/Rainbowradioonline.com/Ghana

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