The Director of Finance and Administration at the Ministry of the Interior, Mrs Doreen Annan, has announced that Ghana will soon incorporate community sentencing into its legal system.
Mrs Annan, who announced this at a validation workshop on the final draft of the Community Service Bill in Accra, if the Bill is passed into law, it would not only improve the nation’s judicial system but also support and encourage the reintegration and resettlement of offenders back into society in accordance with current international best practices.
Mrs Annan explained that community sentencing is an alternative punishment to custodial sentencing, where a court convicts an accused person of a minor offence.
She said the Community Service Bill would see the establishment of the National Community Service Secretariat and its governing bodies at the National and Local Government levels.
She said the Ministry of the Interior launched several policies and programmes in collaboration with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), UN Agencies, academia, traditional leaders, and opinion leaders to guarantee the safe custody, reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners.
According to her, the steps are to alleviate prison overcrowding, enhance the quality of incarceration, lower the rate of recidivism and facilitate the reintegration and resettlement of criminals into society.
She stated that to raise public awareness on the Bill, especially assembly members the Ministry would keep working with the Office of the Head of Local Government, development partners and CSOs.
The Chief Director of the Office of the Local Government Service, Mrs Felicia Dapaah, stated that the Bill would help the government relieve the backlog of inmates in the nation’s jails.
The Community Service Bill is spearheaded by the Ministry of the Interior with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and the Perfector of Sentiments Foundation.
Dzifa Hukporti, ISD