The government has been called upon to increase the cost of feeding of prison inmates to boost their immune systems in this era of COVID-19.
Chief Superintendent of Prison (C/SP) Francis Yao Adzaglo, the Second-In-Command (2IC) of the Navrongo Central Prison in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region, said the current amount of GHC1.80 which was to cater for each inmate’s feeding per day, was woefully inadequate.
To buttress his call for an increase, C/SP Adzaglo said visiting hours which afforded relatives and friends to support the inmates with gifts and food, was suspended to prevent any possible spread of the virus.
“Because of COVID-19, they are not allowed to receive visitors, so you can imagine how they are suffering. How will they boost their immune systems with GHC1.80, no balanced diet can be prepared with that amount.”
The Deputy Commander made the call when the Perfecter of Sentiment Foundation (POS) presented Personal Protective Equipment including Vitamin C, food items, automated hand washing facilities, tissue papers, dust bins among others valued about GHC32,000.00 and a cheque of GHC1,000.00 to the Navrongo Central Prison.
He said the prison had exceeded its total capacity of 80 prisoners by 130, “We are over populated, and the toilet facilities are over stretched. Prison is not for one man, anybody can find himself there, we plead with government to bring its attention to the Prisons and try to solve our numerous problems”.
He said some of the inmates had no skills and plans were underway to undertake skilled training programmes for them, while they served their jail terms, to enable them earn some money and live decent lives after prison.
He thanked officials of the POS for the gesture, which was funded by the German Cooperation, GIZ, and appealed to other organizations, philanthropists and individuals to come to the aid of the Prison with similar donations to support the inmates.
Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director of POS who presented the items, said the gesture was to support the Ghana Prison Service across the country to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to commend officials of the Service for their pragmatic approach to prevent and contain the spread of the virus in their outfits.
He called on government to activate the Contagious Disease Allowance for the Ghana Prison Service, saying “whatever happens to the prisoners could happen to the Prison Officer and COVID-19 is no exception in this situation”.
Mr Owusu further appealed to President Nana Akufo Addo to activate Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution which gives him the prerogative to grant amnesty to prisoners. “The prisons are congested and the inmates cannot practise social distancing”.
“We are calling on him, because in a critical situation where one or two get infected, the others will all be exposed to it,” he said, and reiterated his appeal to the President to grant amnesty to petty offenders and non-violent drug users, to enable them have a second chance in life.