Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says about 90 per cent of the country’s prison inmates have been registered onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to provide them with quality healthcare.
The cases handled included; fresh registration, renewals and replacements, which were done at no cost to the inmates.
Hopefully, the registration would be extended to all other prison establishments in due course, he added.
Vice President Bawumia announced this at the graduation ceremony of Officer Cadets Course Intake 27 of the Ghana Prisons Service in Accra on Friday.
In all, 150 officer cadets comprising 113 males and 37 females drawn from varied professional background including; Agriculture, Accounting, Engineering, Medicine and Social Sciences were commissioned into the Service.
Dr Bawumia stated that government was working closely with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to improve the health system within the prisons, especially in this era of COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is well understood that the COVID-19 disease spreads quickly in enclosed places like prisons which are commonly epicenters for infectious diseases.
“This was of great concern to the government particularly where there was crowding,” he noted.
In view of that, forty (40) medical personnel had been seconded from the Ghana Health Service, while government provided prison establishments with Personal Protective Equipment such as infrared thermometers, washing soap, tissue papers and veronica buckets to avert any mass spread of the virus, Dr Bawumia said.
Dr Bawumia stated that government had completed drafting the Bill on the Non-Custodial Sentencing and upon promulgation into law would provide Alternative Sentencing, including; probation, parole and community service into the country’s Criminal Justice System.
He further explained that the alternative custodial sentence has the potential of decongesting the prisons and significantly reduce the financial burden in managing the prison system.
On accommodation, Dr Bawumia said last year, the President requested the contractors working on accommodation facilities for officers to go back to site to complete blocks of flats at the Ankaful, Nsawam and the Roman Ridge Prisons Complex.
“We know that work had begun, and was progressing steadily until the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19.
“It is our expectation that work will resume soon to complete the blocks of flats to help ease the accommodation problem of the Service, “he added.
Dr Bawumia charged them to internalise the principles of vigilance, discipline, humanity and fortitude in their dealings with fellow officers and the inmates.
He advised them to treat the prisoners with care, respect and decency without compromising on their professional ethics.
Vice President Bawumia Cabinet had approved the placement of all the security agencies under a single pension scheme, CAP 30, which is already enjoyed by the Military.
He condemned the frequent stigmatisation of ex-convicts and admonished the society to welcome them with an open arms.
The government, he said, had been providing skill training to the Prison inmates, especially those of school going age in the areas such as agriculture and other alternative livelihood vocational skills so that they would cater for themselves when they are released from prison custody.
Junior under Officer Amos Benang, the Winner of the Commandant’s Award and Dr Florence Djoletoe, the Best in Academic and also the Best All-Round Officer Cadet.