The Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame has revealed that cabinet has approved his request to amend the Criminal Procedure which will allow for plea bargaining to certain criminal offences in the country.
According to the AG, the draft bill will soon be put before Parliament which will enhance the criminal justice delivery in the country and would become a channel to decongest the various prisons.
“Amendment to the Criminal Procedure 1960 Act 30 to incorporate plea bargaining firmly into the trial of cases. By this amendment into the criminal procedure act, plea bargaining will be permissible in cases except a few that will be set out in the act,” the AG made this known while touring the James Camps Prison in Accra as part of a working visit since becoming the AG.
“I am happy to state that, Cabinet about three weeks ago has granted approval of my request for the policy and the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act to incorporate plea bargaining to be laid before Parliament.
But, the AG asserted that offences in the nature of treason, rape, genocide, robbery, kidnapping, murder, abduction and piracy and offences relating to public elections are to be excluded from the bill.
The second innovation he said is the passage of the alternative sentencing act which seeks to provide options for punishment
Electronic Management System
The Director-General of Prisons Isaac K. Egyir while acknowledging that, it would continue to work together with stakeholders for better administration of the Criminal justice system, advocated for certain reforms.
“The Prisons Service is at this juncture advocating for the establishment of a central electronic case management system, with defined operational procedures, common to all Criminal justice institutions to help streamline processes which will guide the criminal agencies and establish responsibilities and guidelines for efficient service delivery.
In addition to training packages for prison staff to enhance their professional capabilities, he said, “the service will also appreciate your support in electrically streamlining its database for effective linkage between the prison establishments and the central administration or headquarters, to facilitate speedy access to inmates’ information/records and also reduce the volume of paper works.”
Justice for All
According to him, the Justice for All initiative, he said has contributed substantially in stemming down the incidence of overcrowding in the Prisons.
“From the year 2007 to April 2021, out of a total number of 4, 512 inmates, 1,597 were granted bail, 28 referred to Psychiatric hospital, 839 were discharged with 35.40% granted bail and 3.99% convicted.
“Additionally, the General overcrowding rate has reduced from 72.41% in 2008 when the Justice for All Program was initiated to 35.11% as at 27 September 2021.
“Thirteen years onto the Justice For All, the total prison population now stand at 13, 559 as of November 17, 2021, out of which 1, 575 are remand prisoners, representing 11.6% of the total prison population.”
The AG together with his two deputies Diana Asonaba Dapaah and Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, Helen Akpene Awo Ziwu, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecution and Nana Ayiah, Deputy Minister of Interior were at the event.
The AG also visited the Senior Correctional Centers.