It is common knowledge that aside from being denied the freedom of movement, prisoners in Ghana are subjected to a strict daily routine which forms part of their punishment and reformation process.
More often than not, hard labour is added to prison sentences to also serve as a deterrent.
With several tales being told by ex-convicts about the prisons, some Ghanaians have wondered over the years how exactly the system works there and how prisoners are controlled.
In an attempt to satisfy the curiosity of some Ghanaians, a young man who was sentenced to three years and six months at the Sunyani Central Prison has given a vivid account of how the prison system works, particularly as regards the daily routines of inmates.
Alexander Wiredu who spoke on GhanaWeb’s #SayItLoud, likened the prison system to an SHS but with extremely different conditions; where the latter is more favourable and conducive and the former, only comparable to hell, as captured in the Christian Bible.
“The prison life is very very rough,” he said.
Giving details of their daily routine at the time he served his sentence, he said inmates were woken up with loud sirens around 5 am. From then, their morning routine began with devotions and bathroom sessions.
“At exactly 5.30 am you hear the bell meaning you must get ready to wake up, you’re going out. So, you hear them singing for about 5 minutes. Around 6 am they open doors for people to use the bathroom. Imagine a bathroom about this size (making gestures) with 800 men, when you step on someone’s foot it’s also another problem…” he recounted.
After going through congested bathrooms, Wiredu recounted that prison officers then commence their daily counting of inmates. After which they proceed to have their breakfast around 7.00 am.
“…About 7:00 – 7:30 am you go in for your so-called porridge… it’s our ordinary corn dough porridge but it’s awful when you see it. You’ll not even feel that it is corn dough,” he said.
He further added, “every morning you get corn dough porridge…since I went there it never changed.”
On countless occasions, Wiredu narrated that some inmates were taken out to work after they have had their breakfast. Those who stayed back usually loitered around in groups at their churchyard either having conversations, smoking or selling illicit drugs.
For lunch, “we take Banku (a local Ghanaian food made with both cassava and corn dough) and groundnut soup around 11:00 – 11:300. But on Wednesday we had rice, he said.”
“And for supper, he added, they were once again given Banku with groundnut soup. It’s about 3:00 – 3:30 pm…,” he added.
With regards to their bed-time, he added that by 5:30 pm prisoners were expected to conclude the day’s activities for all doors in the yard to be locked.