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Prison system is one of the tragedies of our time - Ken Attafuah

Criminologist and law professor, Ken Agyemang Attafuah, says Ghana's prisons have become holding centre rather than reform institutions.

The sheer numbers of inmates in the country's prisons, he said, “do not permit even reasonable efforts at rehabilitation.”

He was speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show Monday on the topic, “Criminal Minds.”

Describing the state of Ghana's prisons as “one of the tragedies of our time,” Prof. Attafuah said, “our prisons are incapable of containing [the large number prisoners] let alone reform them.”

“We have a large army of motivated offenders, typically male, aged between 15 and 37, who instead of being in college, are in prison; we have an army desperate, disappointed, frustrated, unemployed youth who feel a tremendous sense of lost opportunities, a tremendous sense of failure, parenting deficit and of course the tragedy of our schooling system that by and large contribute to the production of these desperados in our society.”

Regrettably, he said the prison system is not equipped, has not been for decades, to reform those who get into trouble with the law and have to serve jail terms.

Professor Attafuah stressed that even though the prison officers may be well trained and the prison institution “mentally positioned to do rehabilitation and [run] reformation programmes, …our prisons have over time, become containment centres; indeed they have been so since the early 1900s; they have never been a serious place for the rehabilitation of criminals.”

The head of the Faculty of Law at the Central University said what goes on in the prisons in Ghana bears little semblance to the aspirations and mission statement of the Ghana Prisons Service.

More soon.

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