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Ghana Prisons – The Real Story

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By Olivia Owusu

Prisons are designed as spaces for the punishment of offenders. Recently, there has been a notable transformation in Ghana’s prison system. Historically, the conditions within these facilities jeopardized the health of many inmates due to the absence of educational and vocational training programs essential for their successful reintegration into society. Stories shared by former prisoners have sparked curiosity among Ghanaians regarding the operational dynamics of these institutions and the management of detainees. This has led to urgent demands for reform to guarantee that those in custody are treated with dignity and respect.


During an appearance on the GTV breakfast show, Superintendent Adamu Latif Abdul, a prison officer at the Nsawam male prison, provided a detailed explanation of the functioning of the prison system. He highlighted that the primary mission of the service is the rehabilitation of inmates, to this end, a variety of educational and technical vocational programs such as baking, tailoring, shoemaking, and smock weaving are offered. These programs are designed to equip inmates with valuable skills and offer them hope for a better future. Superintendent Abdul noted that inmates have the option to enroll in these programs based on the availability of workshops in their respective facilities. Additionally, he mentioned that many prison facilities engage in agricultural activities to help supplement the feeding of inmates.


Superintendent Abdul elaborated on efforts to decrease the crime rate in Ghana through the launch of the Youth and Crime Campaign. This initiative targets secondary schools, tertiary institutions, churches, and broader communities, providing education on behaviors that could lead to imprisonment, the severe conditions within prisons, and the challenging consequences of living as an ex-convict. The aim is to deter individuals from engaging in criminal activities by making them aware of these realities.

DSP Irene Pokua Wiredu also emphasized the importance of the Ghanaian community’s support for reintegrating ex-convicts. She advocated for a societal approach that welcomes and supports individuals released from prison, which is crucial for preventing them from re-offending and returning to the prison system. “This approach is vital for reducing recidivism rates in the country, which currently stand at 4%,” she added.

Superintendent Adamu Latif Abdul highlighted the invaluable nature of freedom, concluding with a poignant reflection: “Freedom is very expensive, and its true value is only realized once it’s lost.

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