In as much as we all believe in the rule of law and embrace the Supreme Court�s ruling on granting franchise to prison inmates, it is also very imperative that we take a critical look at the adversary effect of this decision.
Looking at contemporary crop of Politicians, who are eager to do anything for power, it is very obvious that when prison inmates are given the green light to vote, incumbent presidents are going to abuse the power of prerogative of mercy, by granting clemency or pardon to a large number of prisoners in an attempt to win sympathy from their colleagues.
And in the event where this transpires, it would be a threat to national security. This is because recent reports on heinous crimes committed in the country proves or illustrates that most of the criminals who perpetuate these crimes are ex-convicts, some even committing crimes just a week after coming out from jail. This is as a result of the fact that Ghanaian prisons lack effective reform training programmes which would equip inmates with lucrative skills unlike we have in most advance countries. So after serving their sentences or being pardon, they end up committing more crimes again in attempt to earn a living, just because they do not have any handiwork that would secure them money. Meaning our prisons end up in deforming inmates rather than reforming them.
In a likely event that our Politicians begin to abuse or masturbate the power of prerogative of mercy in their attempt to secure sympathetic votes from prison inmate, it is we the ordinary Ghanaians that would incur the wrath of these ex-convicts because we cannot afford to provide twenty four (24) hour security services for ourselves, unlike most Politicians who are entitled to free twenty four (24) hours security services.
It is in view of the above that it would therefore be perilous to implement such a decision at this particular time. I would use this opportunity to appeal to President John Evans Atta Mills, the NDC government and the Chairman of the electoral commission Dr. Afari Gyan to reconsider their decision and in the meantime rather channel the resources which are meant to extend voting rights to our brothers and sisters in the prisons into productive training programmes aimed at providing Ghanaian Prison inmates with lucrative skills, such as training in the assembling of mobile phones, computers among others.
This would ensure that when they get out of gaol, they would be equip with lucrative handiwork that would provide them with money and therefore debar them from engaging in crimes again.
Also, much resource should be channel into helping to fast track cases of most innocent inmates who are only suspects and have been languishing on remand in our prisons for many years, as the wise dictum stipulates, �justice delayed is justice denied�.
Finally should the NDC government and the electoral commission maintain their stance of granting franchise to prison inmates in the upcoming polls, then our legislators have to put in place effective mechanisms to ensure that no incumbent president puts the security of our beloved country in danger by abusing the power of prerogative of mercy in their bid to secure sympathetic votes from prison inmates. This issue must be taken seriously because hitherto, it appears our constitution grants much leeway to the President in the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy and this power is liable to abuse.
Source: KPATAKPA NELSON POLITICAL SCIENCE GRADUATE UNIVERSITY OF GHANA 024-4199538 [email protected] - HALF-ASSINI, JOMORO CONSTITUENCY
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