According to Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame, Cabinet has approved a measure that would establish plea bargaining as an alternative to allow the state to not always fight for offenders to be imprisoned.
This, however, will not cover all offences.
Treason, murder, and kidnapping, for example, will be exempt from this agreement.
Mr. Dame made this statement during a visit to Accra’s James Town jail and Senior Correctional Centre on Thursday.
Isaac Egyir, Director-General of the Ghana Prisons Service, welcomed him.
Mr. Egyir stated that the Justice for All Program, which began in 2007, has resulted in 1,597 convicts being given bail, 28 being committed to a psychiatric hospital, and 839 being dismissed.
The concept is designed to have judges and state prosecutors perform court sessions in various jail institutions in order to deal with people on remand.
Mr. Egyir stated that the initiative has significantly decreased jail overcrowding, with the overall prison population currently standing at 13,559 as on November 17, 2021.
Only 11.6 percent of the detainees are being held on remand. He indicated that the rate of overcrowding has decreased from 72.41 percent to 35.11 percent.
He encouraged the AG to build a centralized electronic case management system with established operational procedures to streamline operations that would lead criminal justice agencies, as well as other measures to enhance jail conditions.
Mr. Dame stated that the administration was dedicated to decongesting the country’s jails. The approach is anchored on two pieces of legislation.
One proposes amending the Criminal Procedure Act of 1960 (Act 30) to allow for plea bargaining, while another proposes instituting a new sentencing regime.
“I believe that plea bargaining is an innovative technique that will help to decongest jails,” Mr. Dame remarked.
He noted that such a contract would require the Attorney General’s consent.