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Ghana: Sanitation and Criminal Sentencing

legal dispatch

Photo Reporting- Ghana: Sanitation and Criminal SentencingGhana: Sanitation and Criminal Sentencing

…A Comparative Study of Ghana’s Overbearing Criminal Sentencing Boom and the Societal Needs


According to World Health Organization (WHO) [1], sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. “Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word 'sanitation' also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.” I’m tempted to juxtapose this to criminal sentencing, referred to by Cornell [2] as the formal legal consequences associated with a conviction. “Types of sentences include probation, fines, short-term incarceration, suspended sentences, which only take effect if the convict fails to meet certain conditions, payment of restitution to the victim, community service, or drug and alcohol rehabilitation for minor crimes. More serious sentences include long-term incarceration, life-in-prison, or the death penalty in capital murder cases. Criminal law theorists believe that sentences serve two purposes. First, they serve the goal of deterring future crime by both the convict and by other individuals contemplating a committal of the same crime. Second, a sentence serves the goal of retribution, which posits that the criminal deserves punishment for having acted criminally. When sentencing, a judge must impose the least severe sentence that still achieves both goals, while also considering the need for societal protection.”


For those who might have been grown enough to witness the foment of the 4 June 1979 Military Uprising, you could recall not only from the mass media [radio sets, TVs and newspapers or by hearsay] how “Judges at the Special Courts”, were hammering the so-called economic saboteurs or nation wreckers with some 99 years’ imprisonment and with “hard labour” but also, could attest to how the leader and chairman of that revolutionary revolt- Flight-Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, immersed himself with his olive-green fatigue into choked gutters, all in a bid to restore it to the purpose for which they were constructed- a free and thorough water-ways. Some four decades on, and by that standard measures or roadmap, what sense could we make of, or reconcile with, our current disparaging sanitation dilemmas, not forgetting the generosity of our Sentencing Guidelines to the mobile phone thief or a political burglar? Yes, sentencing must reflect on the social needs of the community it serves.



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