Prisoners makes about 14 to 15 percent of Ghana’s population. These means for the past few years; crime rate has been on the rise and society pays less attention to this situation. The Ghanaian prison as known to and heard by many is characterized by overcrowding and poor maintenance.
Overcrowding is a major issue as well as the Ghanaian prison is concern. As the population grows day in and day out, major facilities of a country such as schools, hospital etc. are being extended to hold a large amount of people but the prison is excluded. Population of a country grows together as its crime rate. A prison cell which was built about 20 years ago to contain an average of thirty people is now a holding about sixty to seventy prisoners. This makes it easy for the spread of highly infectious diseases. Law breakers who are sent to prison for hard labor, do not undergo any proper medical evaluation to check if they are with any infectious diseases. They are just being sent to prison the second they’ve been proven guilty by the law. Due to this factor, most individuals who are sent to prison ends up being infected by a contagious disease from other inmates. Also, about 75 percent inmates lose their lives whiles in prison because their health was not well taken care off.
Lack of health personnel, facilities and systems to ensure good health of inmates is also a major disadvantage facing the Ghanaian prison. Due to this, the lives of inmates are threatened. There are no policy makers who would re-evaluate and ensure an uninterrupted and quality healthcare system among prisoners. There is not the present of any healthcare policy which facilitates easy access to medical facility for every patient including prisoners. This means the health of prisoners is not cared about and each prisoner would have to thrive to stay healthy or recover from any disease or whatsoever.
Violence is another factor studied about the Ghanaian prisons. The life of an inmate is always troubled by the presence of other inmates. As an individual is sentenced to prison, he or she loses his or rights to freedom but not the right to be protected. The Nations fails to protect these prisoners when they are in custody. Since there are no groupings of the young or old, weak or strong, other prisoners especially those who are physically well-built, stick to punishing and practicing all forms of violence to other prisoners who are not “strong” enough to protect themselves. Because the nation is failing to protect prisoners, most of them live their lives in fear which also poses a threat to their medical health.
Another challenge also facing the Ghana prison system is giving the prisoners sufficient food. Hunger is also another problem being faced by prisoners. Although they are given a three-square meal; morning, afternoon and evening, the food given to them is not enough. During breakfast, they are sometimes served with one ladle of porridge without bread or almost spoilt hard bread which a rational human would not eat. Sometimes the food given to them were prepared with nearly rotten vegetables which they would not have any other choice but to eat it anyway.
At times, there is bias when during sharing of food. Those in charge tends to give more to their co-ethnic members, friends or friend of friends rather than being fair to all. Some prisoners also cease the food of other prisoners making them starve till the next food is shared.
These are the top unlucky treatment prisoners faced throughout their entire years given to them by the government. Prison is more like a jungle where only the strongest can survive.
By Dennis Oduro