Prison decongestion: A-G to lay two bills before Parliament

“I am treating both pieces of legislation as part of my priority legislation this year

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, will soon put before Parliament, two bills that will provide alternative sentencing, instead of imprisonment, to accused persons and convicts.

The two bills are the Plea Bargaining bill and Alternative Sentencing bill.

According to the A-G, the Plea Bargaining bill has received cabinet approval, where as the Alternative Sentencing bill is undergoing stakeholder consultation.

He also said the former would be an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, 1960 (Act 30), whereas the latter, a complete Act of Parliament.

He however indicated that some crimes are excluded from the Plea Bargaining bill.

“Treason, violent Offences such as rape, genocide, robbery, kidnapping, murder, attempted murder, abduction, defilement, piracy and offences related to public elections will be excluded from the Plea Bargaining. Apart from these, Plea bargaining will be available in all other cases,” he explained.

Plea Bargaining will also be done only with consent from the A-G.

According to Mr. Dame, it is to prevent possible abuses of the yet to be made law.

“I am treating both pieces of legislation as part of my priority legislation this year,” he said.

When passed into law, the two bills are supposed to reduce the backlog of criminal cases in courts, and decongest the country’s already crowded prisons.

The introduction of these bills would not be the first of reforms to reduce overcrowding in prisons in the country.

In 2007, the A-G, together with stakeholders in the Criminal Justice system introduced the Justice For All Programme (JFAP).

The JFAP has so far reduced the number of persons on remand through the setting up of special courts in prisons to adjudicate cases of remand prisoners.