Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director of Human Rights Civil Society Organisation, Perfector of Sentiments (POS) Foundation, has said the introduction of non-custodial sentencing in Ghana’s justice system is necessary to reduce recidivism in the society.
He said it will also cut down the budget on prisoners and improve the lives of members of the society.
Mr Osei Owusu said the increasing number of re-offending in society is as a result of sentencing individuals who commit a misdemeanor to prison.
According to him, interactions between persons convicted of misdemeanor and first class convicts result in learning new techniques to commit more dangerous crimes. He said this at the CDD-Ghana roundtable discussion on June 9.
“The issue of recidivism, that is re-offending is critical when you are considering non-custodial sentence in every dispensation. So that the re-offending rate will come down where people will not even go to prison to get hardened and come back and cause more harm to the system.
“When you sentence somebody who has committed a misdemeanour to prison, he gets in there, he meets up hardened criminals and when those hardened criminals meet up with them, they get hardened. Obviously he got in with a misdemeanour and will come out of prison. So if he went in with a small roll of ‘wee’ this time he will come back in with a gun and a life would have been lost”, he said.
Mr Osei Owusu believes that it makes economic sense to introduce non-custodial sentencing system to replace the current system.
“Again, when we look at the government, government is spending a lot on prisoners. And so if we are going to get them to weed, to clean, the state will benefit. Why do we have to put them in custody, take care of their water, electricity, and accommodation when the place is already congested?”
At the same event, Finance and Administration Director of the Church of Pentecost Ghana, Apostle Lawrence Otu Nyarko said there are alternative punishments for people who commit misdemeanor . He is also of the view that non-custodial sentencing is the way to go.
“For someone who has committed a minor offence, a punishment could be melted out which will also be an advantage to the community or the society”.
The POS Foundation is a Human Rights Civil Society Organization (CSO) which focuses its activities in the areas of Human Rights Advocacy and Development, Law/Policy Reforms, Youth Development and Social Accountability, Gender Equity, Women Economic Empowerment and Access to Justice.