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General News Fri, 30 Jul 2010

Minister appeals to Parliament not to play politics with housing deal

Koforidua, July 30, GNA - Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Eastern Regional Minister, on Friday appealed to Parliament to give the STX deal the needed support as it would provide accommodation to many Ghanaians.

He said the state of accommodation and facilities of Ghana's security agents was bad and that any move to block the STX deal, which would improve their lot, would not do the nation any good.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo, who made the call at the inauguration of the Regional Prisons Committee, said approving the STX agreement by Parliament was a national duty to improve the welfare of the public and members of parliament could not afford to fail their representatives.

He said the Prisons Service for instance that provided critical service to the nation in the administration of the criminal justice had poor accommodation facilities that government intended to use the STX deal to address.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo mentioned issues such as the increase in homosexual practices and HIV prevalence in the Koforidua prisons and indicated that the committee would work hard to find solutions to mitigate the situation.

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Mr Michael Kofi Bansah, Acting Director-General of the Prison Service, said the Service was aware of the bad conditions that prevailed at the various prisons across the country yet it looked on helplessly due to lack of resources.

He said many prisoners slept on the bare floor because of overcrowding and that the Eastern Region had the third highest number of prisoners in the country and urged the committee to take steps to improve their situation.

Air Marshal A.A Bruce, chairman of the Prisons Service Council, said 54 percent of the prison population of 4,300 in the region were remand prisoners saying 93sometimes the length of time spent on remand was more than the convicted period".

He noted that the completion of construction works on the 2,000 capacity maximum security prison at Ankaful in the Central Region would alleviate the overcrowding situation.

On the inadequate feeding grant of 60 pesewas per prisoner a day, he said the Council had initiated plans to have it adjusted upwards to enable the service to provide substantial meals for the inmates.

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Air Marshal Bruce said the prisons had become a 93wholesale for prisoners" instead of a reformation centre and urged members of the committee to find ways of addressing the situation.

He appealed to the media to do advocacy for the Prisons Service to let society understand the need to help prisoners to be integrated into the society after their release to prevent recidivism.

The committee, chaired by the Regional Minister, later swore the oath of office, secrecy and allegiance administered by the High Court Judge, Justice Efo Kosi Kaglo.

Source: GNA