LRC’s Sensitization on The Ghana Case -Tracking System and Community Service Bill

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Ghana launched the first electronic integrated criminal justice Case-Tracking System (CTS) project to support key stakeholders in the justice delivery system, to collect, collate and harmonize statistical data for effective justice delivery. The CTS project which is being supported by the USAID is to enable the key actors in the justice delivery system to electronically access and track the various stages of criminal cases from the point of arrest, investigations, prosecution, conviction rehabilitation, and release.

The Legal Resource Center (LRC), a Non-Governmental Organization based in Accra organized a two-day sensitization workshop on the Ghana Case-Tracking System and Community Service Bill in the Prampram District of the Greater Accra region to increase citizensโ€™ oversight, involve stakeholders and advocates for the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in resolving cases and the effective utilization of the CTS. The Prampram District is one district in the Greater Accra / Tema Region with a CTS presence.

Some key areas addressed during the workshop were the โ€œUSAID Justice Sector Support Activityโ€ by Mr. Enock Jengre, a rule of law specialist with LRC, โ€œUnderstanding of Ghana CTS and Its Relevance in Justice Deliveryโ€ by a representative from IBG, and finally the โ€œStatus of monitoring of CTS in the Greater Accra Regionโ€ by Mr. Samuel Fant Kombian, Monitoring Evaluation, and learning specialist with LRC.

The workshop served as a platform to create an awareness of, and rally, the support for the passage into law of the Community Service Bill 2022. The Community Service Bill aims to use other non-custodial sentence approaches in convicting offenders for certain types of offenses considered misdemeanors of the usual custodial sentencing regime. The passage into the law of the community service bill will lessen the governmentโ€™s expenditure on prison service and the burden on the taxpayer. It will encourage non-custodial punishment for minor offenses and help reduce the pressure in the prisons and encourage reformation as opposed to custodial sentencing.

In his presentation, Mr. Enock Jengre, a rule of law specialist, in his presentation stressed the Community Service Bill, when passed into law by Parliament, would reduce the excess number of inmates in the countryโ€™s prisons.

The Bill will also ensure that offenders such as parents and benefactors sentenced would be able to carry out their punishments without being separated from their families for years, as has been the case under the custodial sentencing system.

Community Services are those non-custodial punitive measures where offenders will serve the community either by cleaning or provision of other services, beneficial to the community. This is reserved for lesser offenses such as minor theft, drunk driving, non-grievous assault or battery, etc. The community sentence may be preferable to a custodial sentence because a custodial sentence will not help to reform the offender, or a prison sentence may not merit the crime. Community service allows offenders to undertake reformative activities and work in the community while under the supervision of the probation service in the community where the act is committed. It may give anyone caught in the act of minor thievery a punishment of cleaning the community gutters rather than serving a jail term in the prison. Here, the government does not have to make budgetary allocations for his/her upkeep, nor does the offender occupy space in the already congested prison. The community gains from the offenders’ services of keeping the gutters clean.

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