THIRTY-THREE inmates of the Sunyani Central Prisons have been granted amnesty for this year by the previous government.
Those granted the amnesty were in the classes of first offenders who have spent about half of their jail terms and were of good behaviour, very old prisoners who are above 70 years of age and the seriously ill whose conditions had been certified by the Medical Board.
A Deputy Director of the Ghana Prisons Service, Mr Jacob Agambire, who is also the Brong Ahafo Regional Commander of Prisons who disclosed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Sunyani, said the recommendations for those to enjoy amnesty were made at the regional level.
He said a letter for the release of the 33 prisoners had been sent to the Prisons Headquarters in Accra for approval, saying until they received the letter those prisoners could not be released.
However, Mr Agambire disclosed that his outfit would receive the letter from Accra this week which would enable those 33 prisoners to gain their freedom from incarceration.
He explained further that once the letter had been received, copies of it including the names of the beneficiaries would be sent to the Regional Commanders of Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and the Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who would be at the prison yard with the committee set up at the prison on the day of their release to ensure that those granted amnesty were the ones who were being sent out.
The Regional Prisons Commander stated that several mechanisms had been put in place to ensure that the system released the right people who had been recommended to enjoy the amnesty back into society.
Mr Agambire stated further that those who were granted amnesty would have been freed from jail but their criminal records were still there while those who been pardoned by the president and released from prison would have their criminal records erased and might qualify for ministerial and other government appointments except that they cannot stand for election for the presidency.
He observed that there are categories of prisoners who committed certain crimes and were brought to jail who cannot be granted amnesty and mentioned those offences as rape, defilement, armed robbery, narcotics, use of offensive weapons in committing crime, manslaughter and escapees from prisons, saying: “if even they show remorse they would not be granted amnesty.”
Mr Agambire disclosed further that currently there was a total of 1,260 prisoners in the Sunyani prisons and the Yeji, Kenyasi and Duayaw Nkwanta Prison camps.
Touching on the Justice for All Programme initiated by the previous government, the Regional Prisons Commander called for its continuation by the new administration since it was aimed basically at ‘decongesting’ the various prisons in the country.
He stated further that the programme was also targeted in the speedy trial of cases in order not to keep innocent people in prisons for a long time as well as to soften the conditions of bail for minor cases instead of remand.