1Francis Omane-Addo | 2David Ackah (PhD)
1Ghana Prison Service | 2Center for Excellent Training & Consultancy
Illicit drug use is a considerable problem in prisons worldwide. The vulnerability of the prisons to illicit drugs and crime remains a grave concern. The flow of drugs into prisons bring with it other forms of crime and undermines security, health and control of an already overcrowded and fragile environment. Illicit drug use among prisoners in Ghana is very high and detrimental to their health and personal development. The study was undertaken to examine why, where and how prisoners in Ghana have access to drugs and the consequences on them, prisons staff and the Ghanaian society. Both primary and secondary data were collected from the prisons concerned and a total sample size of 200 prisoners and prison staff were randomly selected for interview. The primary objective the study was to examine why, where and how prisoners have access to illicit drugs and its consequences to them, prison staff and the Ghanaian society as a whole and also to know what policies and measures are in place to curb the challenge and how successful have the measures been. The main findings are that the majority of the drug users in prisons in Ghana are the youthful and those at the productive age; they are from low-income backgrounds, usually unemployed; and have previously been incarcerated for drug related offences. The data also show that the prisoners have access to drugs through visitors, family, friends and prison staff; usually concealed in food, clothing and bedding. Prisoners are motivated to use the drugs because of boredom; as a way of coping with stress; depression; harsh prison conditions lack of meaningful activities at the prisons, addiction to drugs, peer pressure and overcrowding, among others. Some recommendations made were that, the Ghana Prisons Service should develop cost- effective, standardized and sustainable drug use polices and also put effective measures in place for identification, screening and treatment of illicit drug disorders. Regular medical screening should be done for all staff to avoid transmission of infectious diseases to their families, friends and the general society and also, prisoners who are due for release should be medically examined to prevent the transfer of prison health problems into the community. Provisions should be made to install high efficiency scanners in all entry points of the prisons and the Ghana Prisons Service, the Narcotic Control Board, the AIDS Commission and the Ministry of Health should build an effective collaboration to enhance efficiency in curbing the drug-use menace in Ghana prisons.
Keywords: Illicit Drug Use, Substance Abuse, Chronic Medical Conditions, Drug Addiction