Sentencing Persons Convicted of Minor Offences in Ghana: Reducing Judicial Over-Reliance on Imprisonment
This thesis argues that there is overuse of imprisonment for minor offenders in Ghana. These are offenders whose punishments go up to 3 years of jail time, essentially offending mainly for reasons of material poverty. Statutory sentencing provisions have essentially limited judges to impose jail terms. It is argued that one way to decongest Ghana’s prisons is to consider the institutionalization of a regime of community service orders and probation, the administration of which would equip the offenders with income-earning skills while they also reform. Drawing on Kenya, a country that has achieved reasonable success in this reform effort, this thesis recommends that successful implementation of this scheme in Ghana must involve reorienting major criminal justice system actors: the police, judges and legal practitioners. Given its community-based social structure, it is argued that the prospect of successful implementation of the scheme is enhanced by conscientious incorporation of community and family support for its implementation.