Francis-Xavier Sosu, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, 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 alternatives to traditional custodial sentences and fines for minor offenses.
Mr. Sosu introduced the measure on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
In the context of criminal justice, community service is a type of alternative sentencing or punishment in which offenders conduct unpaid work or service for the benefit of the community.
It can take many different forms, such as cleaning up public places, participating in environmental initiatives, working in community centers, aiding with social services, or engaging in other community-beneficial activities.
A bond of good behavior, on the other hand, is often used to describe a court-ordered condition or obligation imposed on a criminal. This condition is frequently included in sentences and is meant to guarantee that the individual acts properly and responsibly for a set amount of time.
In a statement on the Act’s change, the MP stated that community service or the Bond of Good Behaviour would allow offenders to give their time and energy to community-oriented initiatives or organizations to address the effects of their crimes, encourage 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.