Eight hundred and thirty inmates have been discharged through the Justice for all Programme (JFAP) from the country's prisons since its inception in 2007 and the close of last year, 2019.
Out of a total of 4,435 cases that were adjudicated during the period, 1,571 inmates who have been on remand in the prisons for three years or more were granted bail, 171 inmates were convicted and 1,863 cases dismissed and referred to psychiatric hospitals.
The Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Prisons Service, Superintendent Courage Astem disclosed these to the Ghanaian Times in an interview yesterday, stating that some of the cases that were dealt with included robbery, murder and defilement.
He said there were currently 14,960 inmates in the country's prisons as against the 9,945 authorised population for prisons, and gave the breakdown as males 14,801, females 159 and juveniles 272.
Supt Astem said government was building remand prisons at Nsawam in the Eastern Region for 800 inmates to help address the congestion, saying, "the project was currently at the roofing stage."
He said the Church of Pentecost was also building five prison camps in five regions in the country for inmates with low profile cases, adding that the camps in Ejura in the Ashanti Region and Nsawam were at advance stages.
Supt Astem said a prison's bill had been drafted by the Prisons legal team and stakeholders engaged on it, and indicated that "the bill is expected to be forwarded to the Attorney General's Department for study and advice and subsequent submission to Parliament for consideration."
He mentioned feeding as one of the challenges confronting the Prisons Service, stating that "for the past 10 years, an amount of GH¢1.80 pesewas is spent on each inmate as feeding fee", adding that the Prisons Administration was in talk with the government for an upwards adjustment in the feeding fee.
Touching on healthcare, Supt Astem said the establishment of a hospital for the Service would be a better health facility for the inmates, officers and their families.
He said currently, Nsawam Medium Prisons in the Eastern Region and Ankaful in the Central Region were the only facilities with refurbished medical supply and equipment.
Supt Astem said the other prisons had infirmaries, adding that severe cases were sent to public hospitals.