In 1860 the Colonial Government established the Prisons Ordinance which was promulgated in 1876 and gave birth to the Prisons Department on the Gold Coast. In 1920 the first Inspector General of Prisons was appointed. The Ghana Prisons Service is responsible for the safe custody of prisoners in Ghana, as well as their welfare, reformation, and rehabilitation.
It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior. By 1850, there were prisons in four Forts, holding a total of 129 prisoners who were kept in chains. From 1875, when the Gold Coast was formally created as a colony, British criminal jurisdiction was gradually extended to the entire southern part of present-day Ghana and in 1876, the Gold Coast Prison Ordinance, modeled on the English Prisons Act of 1865, was introduced.
The caretaker functions of the early prisons which consisted of mere rules for the safe-keeping of prisoners were established in the 1880 Prisons Ordinance. The unsatisfactory state of the prisons in the years that followed led to the placing of the Prisons Department under the Police Administration.
In 1920, however, as a result of the increased number of Prison establishments and staff, the Police and the Prisons Departments were again separated, and the Prisons Department was placed under an Inspector-General of Prisons. By 1948, there were twenty-nine(29) Establishments all over the country.
On 1st January 1964, the Prisons Department became autonomous and ceased to be part of the Civil Service, and was renamed Ghana Prisons Service. The Ghana Prisons Service is tasked with the safe custody of convicted persons from the courts as well as the provision of reformation and rehabilitation programmes for their successful resettlement into society. Our cherished values are humanity, vigilance, and fortitude.
The core functions of the Ghana Prisons Service as spelled out in Section 1 of NRCD 46 (1972) are as follows:
- Safe custody of prisoners
- Welfare of prisoners.
- Reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners
It shall be the duty of the Prisons Service to ensure the safe custody and welfare of prisoners and whenever practicable to undertake the Reformation and Rehabilitation of prisoners. Every prison officer shall perform such functions as are by law conferred upon a Prison Officer and shall obey all lawful orders and direction in respect of the execution of his office which he may receive from his superiors in the Prisons Service.
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