EVALUATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF GHANA’S JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN REHABILITATING THE OFFENDER

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ABSTRACT

This dissertation critically examines the Juvenile Justice System in Ghana, with particular reference to its effectiveness in reforming the Juvenile offender. The research sought to ascertain what actually takes place at the Remand and Correctional facilities in comparison to the requirements of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003. In particular,  emphasis was placed on the effectiveness of programs aimed at reforming such offenders during their period of incarceration. Skills training and re-socialization programs offered at such institutions were examined to establish its efficaciousness.

The methodology employed in evaluating the effectiveness of the Juvenile Justice Administration in Ghana included meetings held with members of the juvenile justice system, in Accra. Additionally visits were made to correctional homes and  juvenile detention centers to conduct semi structured face to face interviews and questionnaire administration. Where appropriate, telephone interviews were used to garner information. The findings and analysis presented in this study consists mostly of information obtained from a qualitative study of a sample comprised of some workers and inmates of the Correctional Centers in Accra as well as a few legal practitioners involved in the Juvenile Justice System.

The study postulates that, there is a major disconnect between the theory or  legal provisions for the reformation of juvenile offenders and the actual practice. It was realized that the practices in the correctional homes to a certain extent do not match the provisions in the Juvenile Justice Act and this is as a result of the lack of resources to carry out the stipulated practices diligently. The restriction and conditions that come with detention however according to the study has the ability to deter the child from repeating an offence so as to avert such undesirable situations.

The practices of the various stakeholders in the juvenile justice system need close monitoring and supervision to ensure conformity with the law governing the system so as to ensure the human resources offenders are well nurtured and harnessed for national development.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION…………………………………………………………………………………………………… iii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS…………………………………………………………………………………….. iv

ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. v

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………………….. 1

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………………………………………………. 7

2.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7

2.11 Evolution of the Juvenile Justice Models……………………………………………………. 7

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY………………………………………………………………………….. 19

  1. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
    1. Study Design……………………………………………………………………………………………… 19
    1. The Structure of the Juvenile Justice System in Ghana………………………………….. 19
    1. Scope of the Study…………………………………………………………………………………….. 20
    1. Sampling Technique, size and Sampling Frame…………………………………………….. 22
    1. Data Requirement and Sources of Data……………………………………………………….. 23
    1. Research Instruments and Procedures…………………………………………………………. 24
    1. Analytical tools…………………………………………………………………………………………… 24
    1. Questionnaire Design………………………………………………………………………………….. 25
    1. Limitations of the Study………………………………………………………………………………. 25

3.91 Ethical Consideration……………………………………………………………………………… 26

CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS………………………………………… 27

4.11 Reasons for Delinquent Activities and Crimes Committed by Inmates…………. 29

4.21 Offenders at the Osu Remand Home………………………………………………………. 31

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION & SUMMARY…………………………………………………………. 44

BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………………………………………… 53

APPENDIX……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 56

Interview Guide and Questionnaire…………………………………………………………………….. 56

SECTION I (Officials at CHRAJ and DOVVSU and Legal Practitioners)…………………… 57

SECTION II (Staff of Juvenile Homes)………………………………………………………………….. 58

SECTION III……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 60

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

         Background

A juvenile delinquent is an adolescent whose behavior is contrary to the laws of the land (Ayete-Nyampong, 2011). For the purpose of this research, a juvenile is defined as a child between the ages of 10 and 18. Consequently, phrases like the young offender, the youth and the child will be used interchangeably to represent the juvenile.

Juveniles when convicted of their crimes are subjected to the punishments incorporated in the legal system. In the United States of America, “the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) was established in 1899 to separate the adult criminal justice system from the juvenile system. The goal was to facilitate the rehabilitation of youth” (Loeber& Farrington, 2001). It was set up and was to be operated as a separate entity within the criminal justice system with a mandate that juvenile offenders must be treated differently than adult offenders (Baergg & Hoffman, 2011).

The philosophy of the time was that youth should be protected from the punishment that criminal courts placed on adult offenders (McCord et al, 2001). This has been the situation till date and other countries have joined the incorporation of a juvenile justice system in their country‟s legal system.

“The issue of juvenile delinquency is constantly recurring in every society and Ghana is no exception. According to Dei-Tumi (2011), “the rising phenomena of youth unemployment, brain drain, juvenile crime and youth agitations in Ghana in recent times are manifestations of a distasteful youth development profile” (Dei- Tumi, 2011). The increasing rate at which the country is being attacked by this social canker gives rise to the need for a well functioning juvenile justice system.

“Since independence in 1958, Ghana‟s penal system of forty-three (43) prisons and a juvenile facility, the Ghana Borstal Institute, has been guided by the objective of

„reclaiming‟ the criminal with the view of rehabilitation” (Asiedu, 2000). The main reason

for the establishment of the Correctional Homes in Ghana is to ensure “training for citizenship and a concern that the young and careless should be saved from a wasted life of crime” (Asiedu, 2000).

The juvenile justice system, according to the Juvenile Justice Act, Ghana, has been put in place to protect the rights of juveniles and ensure an appropriate response to juvenile offenders (Parliament House, 2003). These juvenile offenders are usually kept in Correctional centers in Ghana. The homes are the institutions responsible for using corrective measures, under the Juvenile Justice Act, to raise these children during their time of stay and in the process train them to be productive and responsible members of the society.

The problem of juvenile delinquency has potentially negative effects on both the individual involved and the development of the country as a whole. The behavior of the juveniles put an enormous drain on the resources of the country in terms of cost of policing and courting, and the costs of treatment and incarceration. The lives of these young ones are wasted and unproductive during their time of serving a sentence or facing the consequences of their actions (Brandt, 2006).

Some of these children have to stay in juvenile homes while their colleagues are in school and receiving training for the future. Delinquent youth are seven times more likely to have a history of unemployment and welfare dependence as an adult, and they are more likely to be divorced and to bear children outside of marriage. They are also much more likely to be rearrested at some point in their life (Chung et al, 2005).

The correct functioning of this system undoubtedly has a great impact on the nation‟s  national  development  as  the  youth  make  up  about  35%  of  the  population  of Ghana (Ghana Statistical Service, 2012). The youth are therefore a great store for human capital and their proper upbringing by state institutions will go a long way to enhance and sustain Ghana‟s developing economy.

         Problem Statement

Currently there are 98 inmates at the Boys‟ Correctional Centre and about 4 inmates at the Girls‟ Correctional Centre in Accra. Research suggests that if released offenders are unemployed and uneducated they are likely to become recidivist offenders (Lockwood et al, 2012). The juvenile justice system in Ghana is one that makes provision for the juveniles in their custody to have access to education and other training facilities that will make them better off in the country when they are released. However, the effectiveness of such programs has not been realized as some juveniles come back into the society and are branded as misfits and as such resort to their delinquent behavior.

The juvenile justice system in some cases does not ensure that the delinquents have access to education. An example is the situation in the Ho Prisons according to an article on Joy online. The article states that, “in Ho, a 15year old was sentenced to a two year prison term for stealing” (Joy Online, 2007). This child, according to the article was going to lose her privilege of going to school as result of making this mistake. This should however not be the case. The relevant question therefore is: How is such a child going to be able to re-integrate into the society without retaliating or repeating the same mistakes out of rebellion and frustration? “Students returning from long suspensions or expulsions, from residential placements, or from secure facilities are at particular risk of school failure and dropping out” (Higgins & Mazotti, 2006). An ineffective system makes social re-integration difficult and stifles development.

“Developing and implementing effective and cost attractive intervention services for juvenile offenders with alcohol/other drug abuse and related problems remain critical needs” (Sherman et al., 1997). The different juvenile delinquents have different problems influencing their behavior and as such need to be tackled with precision and differently

for effectiveness. The legal system however in Ghana does not make provision for this due to lack of the correctional facilities. According an article dated 4th August, 2011 and titled, “Woes of the Borstal Child” there are only four functioning correctional facilities while there are several hundreds of children below 18years that live in these homes(Joy Online, 2011).

There has been very little investment in these structures over the years. Also the prisons for the juvenile offenders are not only few but the few available are packed with acquitted criminals, suspects and sometimes juveniles (Joy Online, 2011). As noted in the 2007 report of the National Prison Rape Elimination Act Commission, juveniles are at highest risk of being sexually abused while in confinement, and children housed in adult facilities are at an even higher risk of being victims of sexual abuse than the children retained in juvenile facilities (UNICEF, 2006).