Prisons as colonial relics

Anti-prison thought and Ghanaian history

Authored by: Abena Ampofoa Asare

The Routledge International Handbook of Penal Abolition

Print publication date:  March  2021
Online publication date:  March  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138354098
eBook ISBN: 9780429425035
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter continues a dialogue between global penal abolitionism and African intellectual and social history by identifying a tradition of anti-prison thought rooted in Ghanaian geography and history. In Ghana, West Africa, the prison is a colonial relic; its origins lie in European colonial authority and wealth creation. Historical accountings of the Ghanaian prison’s origins and trajectory create a foundation for thinking outside the penal status quo in Ghana and other postcolonial geographies. Using the writings of Ghanaian political prisoners, poets, policy experts, and politicians who have identified the prison as an institution both foreign and violent, this chapter discusses a national Ghanaian tradition of anti-prison thought and considers its relationship to global penal abolitionism.

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