Counselling Needs of Ghanaian Prisoners: The Case of Ankaful and Kumasi Central Prisons

By Ayamba, Ben-Bishop Nyanihorba; Arhin, Ato Kwamina et al. | Ife Psychologia, September 2017 | Go to article overview

Counselling Needs of Ghanaian Prisoners: The Case of Ankaful and Kumasi Central Prisons


Ayamba, Ben-Bishop Nyanihorba, Arhin, Ato Kwamina, Dankwa, Juliana Audria, Ife Psychologia


Introduction

According to Ajagbe (1996), prisoners are seen as outcasts and mere objects of ridicule. Ajagbe believes that the prison is set out to punish the person(s) who violates the criminal laws of the land by restricting their freedom and keeping them in a place of confinement. Prisoners, therefore, need counselling in order not to re-offend upon their release. To many people, prison connotes a place where criminals are kept regardless of sex, age or social class.

Convicted offenders are sent to the prisons by the courts for various terms of imprisonment thereby separating them from the society. Throughout the world when mention is made of prisoners, society sees them as people who have been caught in the long arms of the law. Durosaro (2002) maintains that prisons are set to perform the following functions:

1. To punish offenders.

2. To protect the society by keeping criminals who endanger the lives of others.

3. To inform, transform and reform ex-convicts so that they can properly fit back into the larger society.

However, emphasis is placed on the first two functions to the neglect of the third because Durosaro (2002) emphasises that prisoners are subjected to all forms of abuse from their counterpart and prison officers. For example, some hardened criminals among them are beaten mercilessly on daily basis, while the females among them are lured into sexual abuses leading to pregnancies. Hence, some children are born in prisons. Although some females became pregnant before conviction, some do get pregnant while in prison.

Meanwhile, prisons are supposed to be a place for transformation and rehabilitation. In most constitutions of countries, prison inmates are supposed to go through some form of reformation before they end their period of incarceration (Bohm & Haley, 2005). This would enable them to fit into society after serving their prison terms and make them (exconvicts) beneficial to the society, themselves and their immediate family. This type of sentencing is now giving way to correctional sentencing and reformation of prisoners to enable them to fit into society after their period of conviction.

For example, in South Africa, the Prison Service is now known as Correctional Service. In Ghana, the Prisons Service has indicated that the Service would change its name to Ghana Correctional Service or Correctional Service of Ghana (modernghana.com, 2007). The change of name is important but, rather a radical paradigm shift in the way prisoners are treated is very important. Inhumane conditions and facilities must give way to 21st century prison facilities and treatment.

In every sphere of human life, it would not be wrong to say that counselling plays an important role in the socio-economic development of the nation. Counselling plays a central role in enabling every human institution to function, in order to achieve its aims and objectives. One of the principles of counselling is that 'counselling is for all', which refers to those who have problems and those without problems (Ipaye, 2004). Since counselling is for all, prisoners like any other person(s) need counselling. Since prisoners are people with all sorts of problems ranging from emotional to traumatic stress, their daily lives should be dependent on counselling to enable them to go through their sentences. In this case, counselling corrects and reforms them to re-live their lives with little or no problem, in society.

The general attitude of the public towards prisoners makes them subjects of ridicule in the society and compounds their problems. Even after serving their jail terms, the system prevents them from functioning properly in the society. This incites a feeling of awkwardness in them. It is against this background that this study seeks to examine how solutions to problems that are hindering the reformation duty of the prison can be sought.

Statement of the problem

According to Durosaro (2002), the mode of stay in prison (convicted or still awaiting trail) is a variable that significantly affects the counselling needs of prisoners. …

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