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Sosu proposes bill to replace sentences for minor offenses with community service

Francis-Xavier Sosu, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, has presented a new proposal to amend the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).

Francis-Xavier Sosu

This amendment, introduced on December 20, 2023, suggests incorporating community service and a bond of good behaviour as alternatives to traditional custodial sentences and fines for minor offenses.

Community service, within the realm of criminal justice, denotes an alternative form of punishment wherein individuals who have committed offenses undertake unpaid work or service for the community's benefit.

This could involve activities like cleaning public spaces, participating in environmental projects, working in community centers, assisting with social services, or engaging in other endeavors that contribute positively to the community.

Conversely, a bond of good behaviour refers to a court-imposed condition placed on individuals involved in criminal activities.

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Often integrated into a sentence, this condition aims to ensure that the person conducts themselves lawfully and responsibly over a specified period.

In his statement regarding the Act's amendment, the MP highlighted that the inclusion of community service or the bond of good behaviour would enable offenders to invest their time and efforts in community-oriented projects or organizations.

This approach seeks to address the repercussions of their actions, foster rehabilitation, and enhance overall community well-being.

He said In the first place, this proposal provides an alternative to Custodial Sentence and Fines: Community service and Bond of Good behaviour serve as an alternative to traditional forms of punishment, such as imprisonment or payment of fines. It allows offenders to remain in the community while still being held accountable for their actions. This also helps to decongest the prisons. As of December 2023, Ghana’s prison population stands at 13,200 despite an authorized capacity of 9,945 giving an overcrowding rate of 32.65 percent. An introduction of Community Service would go a long way to resolve this challenge.

Again, with the punishment evolving, Restorative Justice is currently the way to go: Community service and Bond of Good behaviour are a perfect example of restorative justice where the community turns to benefit directly from offenders. Through unpaid services to the community, offenders are given the opportunity to repair the harm they caused to individuals or the community, fostering a sense of responsibility and accountability.

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