The Ghana Prisons Service (GPS) has appealed to employers and individuals in the country to employ the services of skilled prisoners to enable the service to raise revenue to improve the quality of life of the prisoners.

The Chief Public Relations Officer of the GPS, Deputy Superintendent of Prisons (DSP) Vitalis Aiyeh, who made the appeal in an interview with The Mirror said, “We want to enter into partnership with interested parties, who want to take advantage of the skilled labour we have in the prisons”.

He pointed out that there are all manner of trained individuals in the country’s prisons, whose skills could be put to good use in several areas of the economy.

DSP Aiyeh, however, stressed that in selecting prisoners for jobs outside the prison walls, hardened criminals and recidivists would not be considered at all. “It is only those who committed minor crimes and have very short periods left to the end of their prison terms that will be sent out to work”.

According to the recent Prisons Report (2011), the Commercial Unit had a contractual agreement with Halifax and Associates Limited to produce 540 sets of school desks and chairs for the Apeguso and Anum-Boso Senior High schools.

In partnership with the same company, the service constructed a dormitory block for the Odorgonno Senior High School.

Again, the unit, in collaboration with the Technical Unit, constructed a multi-purpose sports complex for the St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School in Accra. The prisoners also sewed 68 uniforms for the Reinbee Security Company.

The Mirror also learnt the new wing of the Ghana Prisons Services' Headquarters building was constructed by prisoners with supervision from some prison officers.

“We have excellent teachers in the prisons who provide sound education to the inmates. The mainstream Junior High School (JHS) is run with the help of teachers who are inmates. The 20 inmates presented in 2011 obtained a 100 per cent pass in the Basic Education Certification Examinations (BECE),” the report stated.

An employer, who did not want to be named, said for them to be employed, it is not enough for the prisoners to be skilled. “The low reformation capacity of the prisons makes it quite risky to employ convicts”.

The Prisons Service, the employer suggested, must give prospective employers some assurances that their businesses will be safe with convicts around.

Maybe they can be employed in the large scale manufacturing firms, constructional works and on huge farms, but unfortunately, the current Ghanaian economy does even generate enough employment in these areas for non-convicts, so it may be difficult for prisoners to get jobs.

“The Ghana Prisons Service must be creative and use the skilled labour in jail to create their own jobs, especially in agriculture and construction,” the employer advised.