PRISON REVIEWS; Shouldn’t the Judiciary be conducting them more frequently??

By: Winstanley.  R. Bankole Johnson

Someone forwarded an audio clip by BBC stringer Umaru Fofana on the unnecessarily long and unjustifiable detentions of detainees in particular, and on Prisons overcrowding in Sierra Leone in general. I almost declined listening to it, more out of disrespect for its contents than for the reporter, because to me it was just a repeat,  or an update of what would now pass off now as a well choreographed litany of concerns.

The order of presentation was unchanged. First comes the alluring voice intro on the selected topic by the correspondent from an outlet (BBC) that for decades ruled the airwaves as emiting the Gospel, until local partisan politics captured their fancies.


Next in those reports will follow (almost predictably) inserts of lamentations by a Registrar or Bencher of the Superior Courts on the pitiful conditions (and still presumed innocence) of the already disadvantaged detainees, which will be followed by that of a Civil Society Executive, equally profusely lamenting concerns about the administration of justice – in that order.

In those lamentations listeners would be treated to flowery descriptions of the demeanor, mean appearance and reactions of the detainees and also to expressions of hope by the selected Civil Rights Executive (invariably the CARL) for improvements in the justice delivery systems and prison conditions countrywide.


The narrative thus far you will agree with me justifies my dis-interestedness in any such BBC reports because I’ve heard about prisons overcrowding and delays in justice administration to the physical detriment of hordes of detainees that are still presumed innocent too many times before, to believe that they are aired in the victims’ interests.


Now permit me to further explain why readers should understand my initial reluctance to listen to any further reportage on our prisons overcrowding and the pitiful conditions of detainees countrywide.

Nearly two years ago (presumably out of concerns for the same purposes), the entire Benchers decided to figuratively “imprison” themselves within various Correctional Centers. They sort of practically afflicted themselves with the afflictions of detainees, in order for them to obtain real time updates and experiences of their cases and conditions.

The main objective of that crusade was both to accelerate justice delivery and reduce congestion wherever such existed within our prisons systems. No fewer that eleven (11) Correctional Centers were targeted.

Prior to commencement of that crusade which was supposed to have lasted for a little over two weeks, we were informed by the Judiciary that the total number of detainees countrywide was in excess of six thousand.  On completion of that exercise and despite my public inquiry,  they did not think it prudent to have informed us about their successes or failures or reasons for such failures if any.

In the recent BBC reports by Umara Fofana, the figures quoted for detainees countrywide still stands at in excess of six thousand, five hundred (6,500),  a third of which number are within the Pademba Road Correctional System and meaning that either those numbers were either not significantly reduced following the last interventions by the Bench, or that the justice delivery systems are still so bureaucratically encumbered as to have reversed the successes of the Bench within so short a period.


Of significance about recent Newspapers and the BBC reports on the same matter is the number of cases addressed by two Judges during their recent interventions to fast track justice delivery: over 340. And this was within forty-eight (48) hours. (Hmmmmm?).

The BBC reports did not conclusively confirm how many inmates were ultimately released, but if it is possible for two Judges to fast-track resolutions of so many cases (over 340 within two days) to reduce prisons overcrowding that successfully, the logical question arising therefrom is, shouldn’t the Judiciary be thinking of conducting such case reviews more frequently?

Empowering Ghana: Shifting the Focus from Government to Self-Reliance

By Kwame S. Jr

Since Ghana’s historic independence in 1957, the nation has witnessed a series of governments, each with its promises and aspirations for a brighter future. Over the years, Ghanaians have experienced incremental progress in various social sectors, such as healthcare and education, yet the overarching sense of complete relief for all citizens remains elusive. While initiatives like the National Health Insurance under Kufour and the Free Senior High School under Akufo-Addo have made significant strides, the reality is that Ghanaians have often found themselves relying on personal initiatives for their well-being, rather than state support.

This persistent cycle of government disappointments has led many Ghanaians to a crucial realization: self-reliance is the key to a secure future. As we approach the upcoming 2024 election year, it is essential for every Ghanaian to understand that meaningful change begins with individual empowerment.

Ghana has a rich heritage of self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship. Traditionally, Ghanaians have been resourceful, relying on their skills and creativity to make a living. In the face of limited state support, this spirit of self-reliance is not just a choice but a necessity. Instead of waiting for governments to provide all-encompassing solutions, Ghanaians must embrace the idea of creating their own opportunities.

Education is undoubtedly a powerful tool for personal growth, and initiatives like Free Senior High School are steps in the right direction. However, beyond formal education, vocational training and skill development are invaluable. Ghanaians should explore various vocational courses and apprenticeships to enhance their skill sets. By acquiring practical skills, individuals can not only secure employment but also establish their businesses, thereby contributing to the country’s economy.

Moreover, entrepreneurship should be encouraged and celebrated. Starting small businesses can have a significant impact on local communities and the national economy. The government can play a role by providing support in the form of accessible loans, training programs, and mentorship opportunities. By nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship, Ghanaians can create jobs for themselves and others, alleviating unemployment and poverty.

In this pursuit of self-reliance, community engagement is vital. Communities can establish cooperative initiatives, where members pool resources and skills to address common challenges. Whether it’s in agriculture, crafts, or technology, collaborative efforts can lead to sustainable development and shared prosperity.

Additionally, fostering financial literacy is crucial. Ghanaians need to understand the importance of saving, investing, and managing their finances wisely. Financial education programs can empower individuals to make informed decisions, ensuring their economic stability in the long run.

As we stand on the threshold of another election year, the focus should shift from mere political change to a deeper transformation within ourselves. Ghanaians must embrace the spirit of self-reliance, learning skills, and taking charge of their destinies. While governments come and go, the power to shape our lives lies within us. By harnessing our potential, we can create a Ghana where every citizen thrives, irrespective of political transitions. The time for change is now, and it starts with each and every one of us.

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