Ho — THE Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana (EPCG) has pledged to work in partnership with the government to decongest the Ho Central Prison as soon as possible to avert any mishap.
This comes almost a fortnight after a remand prisoner died at the correctional centre, raising higher the long public concern over the extremely dehumanising conditions at the facility.
As at the weekend, there were 572 inmates clogged up at the correctional centre which has a capacity of only 150.
In the absence of space to stretch out and with no quantum of comfort, the inmates who include 89 remand prisoners spend the night squatting or standing.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the EPCG, Rt. Rev. Dr S. S. Agidi expressed concern over the situation and said that a convict was only expected to lose his right to personal freedom and not his right to personal dignity.
In an exclusive interview at the weekend, he pointed out that prisoners were human beings, created in the image of God and for that matter must not be deprived of their basic dignity.
"This is more so, considering the fact that we are all potential prisoners and some people could be wrongly convicted by the courts," he added.
Rev. Dr Agidi gave the assurance that the EPCG was now ready to go beyond donating food items and clothes to prisoners and help restore their human dignity.
He insisted that prisoners deserved to be treated with love to help reform them.
"As a church it is our responsibility to do so, and we are ready to do it jointly with the government," Rev. Dr Agidi stated.
Apart from the overcrowding at the prison, the toilets in the cells are always chocked and overflowing with faeces, compelling the prisoners to inhale the emanating stench all night long.
When contacted, Martin Darku, Assistant Director of Prison (ADP) in-charge of the prison said that it took seven trips by a septic emptier to dislodge the toilet at the prison.
However, the service of the septic emptier was no longer regular and due to the huge prison population the toilets got full soon after they were dislodged.
The stench from the toilet is also a nuisance to officers at the nearby warders' quarters and some residents of Ho-Bankoe.
Several appeals in recent time by the authorities of the prison to government to convert the defunct Border Guards Training School at nearby Akoefe into a prison camp have fallen on deaf ears.
The facility at Akoefe can accommodate 600 prisoners, according to the prison authorities.
Meanwhile, ADP Darku said that the body of the remand prisoner had been sent to the Police Hospital in Accra for autopsy.