Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Woode has cautioned judges against the long-term imprisonment of young offenders.

She said the solution to congestion at the prisons does not only lie in building bigger and better prisons but handing out minimal sentences to young offenders.

Mrs Woode said this when she launched the sentencing guidelines for judges and magistrates in Accra today.

The guidelines, the first of its kind in the country, are to ensure consistency in all courts.

The Chief Justice said the sentencing in courts must reflect the level of wrongdoing.

“Just punishment must reflect the seriousness of the offence while at the same time provide a fit punishment for the crime and thus a respect for the rule of law.”

Human Rights Advocates, according to her have expressed grave concerns over the treatment of both convicted  and remand prisoners.

“Our prisons are overcrowded. Human Rights Advocates are worried about the treatment meted out to both convicted prisoners and accused persons on remand.

“In sentencing therefore, we must be careful not to unnecessarily expose petty young offenders to those we may term as hardened criminals in our prisons”, she added.

The initiative was conducted in collaboration with the UK authorities.

Criminal Justice Advisor at the British High Commission, Roger Coventry said judges are expected to visit the prisons regularly in order to help overhaul the prisons.