The Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, has introduced a new bill in Parliament to amend the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30), introducing community service and a Bond of Good Behaviour as an alternative to the traditional custodial sentences and fines for petty crimes.
Mr. Sosu initiated the bill on Wednesday, December 20, 2023. Community service in the context of criminal justice refers to a form of alternative sentencing or punishment that involves individuals who have committed offences performing unpaid work or service for the benefit of the community.
It can take various forms, including cleaning up public spaces, participating in environmental projects, working in community centres, assisting with social services, or engaging in other activities that benefit the community.
On the other hand, a bond of good behaviour typically refers to a court-ordered condition or requirement imposed on an individual involved in criminal activity. This condition is often part of a sentence and is intended to ensure that the person behaves lawfully and responsibly during a specified period.
The MP in a statement on the amendment of the Act said the community service or the Bond of Good Behaviour would allow offenders to contribute their time and efforts to community-oriented projects or organizations to address the consequences of their actions, promote rehabilitation, and enhance community well-being in general.
“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 at 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 the 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,” he stated.
By: Abigail Arthur