Regional News of 2014-04-24

Kumasi Remand Home for juveniles still closed

Managers of the Kumasi Remand Home for juvenile offenders are unhappy with the continuous closure of the home for nearly a year after it was closed down for renovation.

The dilapidated structure easily allowed juveniles on trial for various offenses to escape. Nearly a year after its closure, Ultimate Radio’s Nana Oye Diabene reports that the facility is wasting away.

The facility was originally built in 1948 by Ghana’s colonial masters to serve as a vocational institute. Years later after independence, government converted it into the Kumasi Remand Home to keep minors who are on trial till the court gives its ruling on their cases.

This is to prevent juveniles from mingling with adult criminals. But more than 50 years down the line, the five bungalows at the home are all dilapidated.

The only kitchen is near collapse, compelling the cook there to erect a new structure with rusted aluminum roofing sheets in order to cook for the inmates. The home, which served only the Ashanti Region, now serves the Brong Ahafo Region and parts of the Central Region, where similar homes have been closed down.

The warden at the home, Francis Adjei, told Nana Oye Diabene the home has seen no renovation since it was built over 50 years ago, compelling them to close it down.

“The facility since 1948 has not seen any major renovation, it’s very dilapidated and outmoded. The place has been closed down since last year July. About five of the inmates escaped through the ceiling, so when I saw the very shabby nature of the place, I had to ask for it to be closed down so that the juveniles do not escape for them to say I am not working. The department is not even having money to feed, so when it comes to feeding, we have to go to the children’s home to beg them for food. The running of the home has been very difficult."

According to Nana Oye Diabene, there are two dormitories at the facility, a male and female dormitory. The boys dormitory, although very enclosed, has its roof rusting away, making it easy for inmates to escape through the ceiling. The warden says for several years, they have not received government subvention, forcing them to beg for food from the Kumasi Children’s Home.

“These boys are hardened criminals, but are brought here. The social worker who has not been trained is made to handle such sophisticated kind of juveniles. I don’t have a knife or a gun and some of these boys rob people on the highways, look at the machines they are using; now they will catch these boys and bring them here, saying they are juveniles. We are handling very hardened juveniles because they are more than juveniles. They are dangerous. Anytime my predecessor tried to give them food; they pushed him down. As I sit here, I am getting to 60 years, so if really they want to hurt me, what can I do” he queried.

Nana Oye Diabene says security at the facility is poor, considering that the fence wall is easy to climb as children from the community have turned the home into a playground. The security guard who mans the gate is over 50 years and looks feeble.

Mr. Adjei said his life is in danger because he has no security training and could be attacked by the inmates most of whom are violent although minors.

The warden at the girl’s dormitory says she has been living in fear after she was attacked by a female inmate.

“There is only one bed here for use. Imagine 5 or 3 people come in and I’m the only one caring for them. So when I’m not around, they have to be indoors. Sometimes if they want to urinate or ease themselves in my absence, they do it inside the room; then they are escorted the next morning to dispose it off. Mosquitoes have flooded this room and sometimes I have to use my own money to buy mosquito coil," she lamented.

The wardens say they will prefer that security personnel guard the inmates since they lack the training to control them. Officials of the Social Welfare Department say they cannot do much about the situation due to lack of funds. The Head of Justice Administration at the Department, Kofi Adu, spoke to Ultimate Radio.

“We have appealed to Government to renovate the facility but nothing has happened yet. In fact, we find it difficult to admit inmates again and that’s why it has been closed down temporarily. We don’t have the means to maintain the facility and so we have now established a subcommittee which is appealing to public spirited people to come to our aid."

He also says the Social Welfare Department is reviewing the use of untrained social workers to provide security at the home.

As the home remains closed, the country’s juvenile justice system will be interrupted as minors on trial in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and parts of the Central Region will most likely be kept in the cells together with adult offenders.

Source: ultimate1069.com
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