Community service

Community Services Bill to pass soon – assures Deputy Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General Alfred Tuah-Yeboah reaffirmed his team’s commitment to passing the Community Service Bill.

He says the processes to make the bill a reality are nearly complete.

“We now have the bill. What remains is stakeholder consultation. Thereafter, we will have the final draft which will be submitted to the cabinet for approval before being submitted to parliament,” he said on Joy FM.

Although he did not give a specific timeline as to when the bill would finally pass, he was sure it would happen as soon as possible.

“From where we are now, in the next 60+ days, I think he should be able to go through some of the consultations,” he said.

Speaking on Joy FM Great morning show on Thursday, July 7, he said the Attorney General is committed to making this a reality and will therefore do everything within his mandate to ensure the bill passes.

He thus appealed to all Ghanaians to support the implementation of this bill by making contributions.

The Community Service Bill, which is an alternative to a custodial sentence for those convicted of certain types of offences, would see offenders perform unpaid public work within and for the benefit of a community for a period not exceeding the term of imprisonment for which the court sentenced them.

Many experts have argued that this is a better option than subjecting people who commit petty crimes to prison terms. They also believe that the Community Service Bill, if passed, will help deal with prison service congestion.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Attorney General previously revealed that the Justice Department is planning to create a community services structure for convicts convicted of minor crimes.

The 45-page proposal, he said, will have a structure for the national, regional and district levels.

According to the Deputy Attorney General, the proposal will also include arrest officers, correctional officers and a social welfare office to help the department ensure the success of the community structure.

“We have actually proposed to have a structure that will be in charge of community service. In fact, it is going to be implemented in the whole country, so we need to have the structure at the national level, at the regional level and at the district level…according to the cases and the social survey report. The Judge may also decide that in view of what this defendant has done, it will be in his interest and that of the State that he do community service.

“There are plans to have social workers as well because social work is in charge of investigating the convict’s background. It may be that the convict has a background that if we could investigate it wouldn’t be necessary to convict a such a person to prison,” he said on The law on Sunday.

Under the new proposal, the option of community service will be left to the discretion of the judge based on the social investigation report and the circumstances of the crime committed.

This new proposal comes into force to solve cases where convicts cannot afford fines and therefore serve prison sentences. It will also prevent wealthy people from being punished for crimes committed because they are well off and could pay fines.

According to Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, the community service structure would also allow defendants to appeal against the community service imposed on them.