Prison authorities at the Kumasi Central Prisons are taking GHC2.00 from each person who comes to visit an inmate in the facility, without issuing receipts to cover the fee. (GhanaPoliticsonline.com)
This conduct is in contravention of section 38 of the Prisons Service Act 1972 (NRCD 46), which does not prescribe payment of fees by visitors to the prisons.
The said Act reads:
1. Every prisoner under sentence of imprisonment shall be entitled, once in every two weeks to receive a visit from friends or relatives in the presence of a prison officer
2. A prisoner under sentence of imprisonment may, in exceptional circumstances, be granted permission by the officer in charge of the prison to receive a visit from friends or relatives in addition to the visit to which he is entitled under subsection (1)
3. Every prisoner not under sentence of imprisonment shall be allowed all reasonable opportunities daily of receiving visits from friends or relatives
4. Every prisoner shall be allowed all reasonable opportunities of receiving visits from his legal advisers.
5. If a prisoner who is seriously ill wishes to be visited by any friends or relatives, a medical officer may give an order in writing or the admission of such friends or relatives if he considers it advisable.
6. Subsections (1 and 3) shall not apply during any period within which a prisoner is undergoing solitary confinement for any offence against prison discipline; but save as aforesaid this section shall apply notwithstanding that a prisoner is undergoing punishment for any offence against prison discipline
Last Friday, when this reporter went to the said facility for the ‘Justice for All programme’, uncountable number of visitors who came to the facility to visit some of the inmates were asked to fill the visitors’ pass, after which a prison officer, wearing an African print, was seen supervising the illegal exercise of collecting the money from the visitors.
This happened at the forecourt of the PRO’s office. The Chronicle observed that the visitor’s form, which was half of an A4 sheet, was halfway filled, with the name of the Assistant.
The prisons officer was seen collecting the money and keeping it in a red file.
It was established that visitors were asked questions like how they relate to the inmate, what items were being bought, as the security officer filled the visitors’ pass.
The Chronicle noticed that all the visitors were ordered to thumb-print.
Speaking to one of the visitors (name withheld), after visiting her brother in the facility, she told The Chronicle that she has been paying GHC2 ever since her brother was thrown into jail for the past eight months.
Approached by The Chronicle, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Kumasi Central Prisons, ASP Richard M. Bukari, confirmed that indeed they have been taking GHC2 from visitors, after they had filled the visitors’ pass.
According to him, they are not the only prison facility that take money from visitors and that it is done everywhere in Ghana.
Asked about why authorities do not issue receipts to visitors upon taking money from them, the PRO replied that they give back the pass to them, which serves as a receipt