Ghana Prisons Council Discuss Prisons with New U.S. Ambassador to Ghana

From L to R, Sup Charles Ameyaw (Secretary to Council), Solomon Appiah (Council Member – President’s Nominee), Mr Emmanuel Yao Adzator (Acting Director General of Prisons Service), Nana Baffour Okumanin (Prisons Council – President’s Nominee ), Ambassador Robert Porter Jackson (US Ambassador to Ghana), Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam (Chairman of Prisons Council), Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong (Council Member representing religious bodies), Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei (Council Member representing Ghana Medical Association), Mr Samuel Amankwah (Council Member representing Ministry of the Interior) and Director of Prisons LKA Ansah (Council Member representing superior officers)

Robert Porter Jackson was sworn in November 30, 2015 as President Obama’s new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana—taking over from Gene A. Cretz—after the U.S. Senate confirmed Ambassador Jackson’s nomination on October 22, 2015.

The 6th Ghana Prisons Service Council led by Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam paid a courtesy call on him & his outfit to discuss amongst other issues Project Efiase, corrections reform, rehabilitation and public safety on February 26, 2016. The Council had paid a courtesy call on his predecessor as well. The fruit of discussions thus far include donation of sewing machines received from the Embassy in 2015 and capacity building courses in Colorado and Florida for senior and middle level managers of the Ghana Prisons Service in 2015 and 2016.

Ghana has for decades enjoyed a measure of peace, stability and public safety. This is the reason many international organizations locate their African headquarters in Ghana. But that reality seems to be in danger of being jeopardized with the steady increase of crime in recent years. Recently an ex-convict murdered a member of parliament. This is unprecedented in Ghana’s history. Part of the reason for the increase in ex-convict related crime is that, due to a lack of resources, instead of rehabilitating inmates, some of Ghana’s prisons have become institutions of higher learning for criminal activities. Rehabilitation is hampered by several factors, some of which include inadequate classification of inmates for treatment, spatial challenges, and the lack of purpose built infrastructure for taking custody of various categories / classifications of prisoners. Remand inmates (pre-trial) are sometimes lumped together with convicted criminals. The Service also lacks workshops etc for training activities. Tackling the issue of rehabilitation will undoubtedly impact favorably on public safety but this is expensive and the government though trying its best cannot do it alone hence the need for Project Efiase. This and many other pertinent issues were discussed with the newly appointed ambassador who has an impressive resume summarized in the next section.

At his swearing-in ceremony, the ambassador had the following to say about his new posting to Ghana. As per a Press Release from the U.S. Embassy Ghana,

[My wife] Babs and I are excited about moving to Ghana, one of the leading democracies on the African continent, with active political parties and civil society organizations, a lively media, a history of peaceful political transitions, an apolitical military, and a good human rights record.

As Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, I intend to build on what I have learned over the last 33 years … about building partnerships. My priorities will be to promote strong institutions, good governance, peace, trade, education, and health, unlocking Ghana’s potential for sustained, inclusive, broad-based economic growth and helping it graduate from traditional development assistance.

Three years from now … I trust we will say that the relationship is stronger than ever and that together the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana have each benefited from our friendship, commerce, engagement and exchanges”.

Prior Appointments

His former portfolio includes:

  • U.S. Department of State’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs since October 2013.
  • Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon – 2010 to 2013
  • Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Rabat, Morocco
  • Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Dakar, Senegal
  • Political/Economic Counselor, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Political-Military Officer, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Chief of the Political Section, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Political/Economic Officer in Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Consular/Economic Officer in Montreal, Canada

Other Appointments

Director of the Office for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy

Country Officer for Zimbabwe, Botswana and Nigeria

Coordinator of the Entry-Level Officer Training Program and Deputy Director of the Orientation Division at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute.

As per the press release, Ambassador Jackson earned his M.S. in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University, his M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his B.A. in Government and Legal Studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Ambassador Jackson speaks French and Portuguese

Members of the Prisons Council meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz

Members of the Prisons Council meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz