Forty-six remand prisoners at the Kumasi Central Prisons, have regained full or partial freedom under the Access to Justice Project initiated seven years ago by the Chief Justice.
Nineteen (19) of them have been discharged while twenty-seven (27) who had been on remand for about three years received bail.
Their cases are among 68 brought up for consideration before three justices who sat on Wednesday in Kumasi.
Two organizations are running the project this year on franchise, with support from STAR Ghana.
They are human rights group, POS Foundation-Ghana, and the Center for Law and Development Policy at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
It is through the joint efforts of the Attorney-General’s Department, Judiciary, Ghana Bar Association and the Prisons Service.
Three thousand and five (3,005) prisoners have so far had their cases reviewed by the scheme, which has already seen 533 freed on bail, and 526 discharged.
A woman who is eight-months pregnant, and another with a five- month old baby, are among those discharged yesterday.
Fidaus Seidu had been on remand for more than 7-months for her alleged involvement in a robbery of a man.
The second woman, Rashida Halidu was accused of her husband’s murder; a situation which forced her incarceration.
She then gave birth to a baby-boy in prison. An Appeals Court Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, blamed some legal decisions taken by the lower courts for over-crowding in the prisons.
Authorities at the Kumasi Central Prisons welcome the initiative as an alternative means to decongest the prisons. Of the over 2,100 prisoner population, 650 almost one–third are on remand at the facility.
Regional Commander, Deputy Controller of Prisons, William Ofori-Anoff is happy at the developments.
“I believe it’s a step in the right direction. Normally we move to the courts which have got a lot of security implications. But here is a case the courts have rather moved to our premises. It cuts down cost; it brings judgment and justice closer to the inmates” Mr. Ofori-Anoff said.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of POS Foundation Ghana, Jonathan Osei –Owusu, wants the country’s justice system reformed to allow for non-custodial sentences, especially, for minor offences.