A total of fifty-nine inmates of the Nsawam medium-security prisons earlier today had their matriculation ceremony at the Nsawam Prisons to study as distant students of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
According to the university, the move forms part of an initiative of the university to make sure qualified convicts benefit from their diploma courses.
In September 2019, the Church of Pentecost began building five settlement camp prisons for the Ghana Prisons Service to help decongest the country’s prisons.
The new facilities would be found in Obuasi and Ejura in the Ashanti Region, Nsawam in the Eastern Region, Hawia in the Western Region, and Kenyasi in the Ahafo Region.
The project which forms part a five˗year strategic vision of the church, dubbed “Vision 2023”, with the overarching theme: “Possessing the Nations: Equipping the church to transform every sphere of society with values and principles of the Kingdom of God,” contained in a draft policy of the Church, sighted by ABC News largely seeks to assist government with the development agenda of the country as well as spreading the gospel.
Page 31 of the document under Strategic Partnership with Government in Developing the Nation, states that ”In collaboration with the Ghana Prisons Service, the church will initiate the construction of accommodation facilities (cells) for selected prisons in the country as part of efforts to support Government ease congestions in those prisons.”
The decision was met with fierce criticism by across section of the public arguing that the Church with this decision will be encouraging crime.
Explaining the rationale behind the project at a meeting with ministers and officers of the church in the Kasoa area in December 2019, Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye, said the Church’s decision to construct correctional facilities across the country is to decongest the crowded prisons, and not to encourage crime.
Apostle Nyamekye explained that as part of the strategic approaches adopted by the Church to realise ”vision 2023,” the church has partnered the government to undertake some social intervention initiatives, including the construction of prison facilities, which has been ridiculed in some quarters of the public.
“As a church, we are in the business of seeking and saving sinners. So, essentially sinners are our clients. It is, therefore, expected that we will take an interest in facilities where sinners are kept,” he said.
He further explained that the construction of prison facilities by the church was part of efforts to assist the government in solving the challenge of overcrowding in Ghanaian prisons.
He said the correctional centres would also have workshops and church auditoriums, among other facilities, that would contribute to the reformation of inmates.
“The Nsawam Medium Security Prison, I am told, was built for 800 inmates, but currently houses close to 3,500 inmates. That is an excess of about 2,700 inmates,”
”If as a church we can put up very big and magnificent auditoriums, which we only use on Sunday mornings and in the evenings and look on unconcerned as our brothers and sisters struggle to find a place to lay their heads, then what kind of followers of Jesus Christ are we?” he quizzed.
Apostle Nyamekye said aside feeding the inmates with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the Church had taken appropriate steps to give inmates who had the ability to pursue a formal education at all levels the opportunity to do so.
Other social interventions being undertaken by the church in line with Vision 2023 are the construction of boreholes, bus stop shelters, Community-Based Health Planning and Services compounds, police stations and an environmental care campaign.