Richard Atta, 21, was lucky when a judge fined him GH¢360 (equivalent of $63) for stealing.

His inability to pay the amount, however, meant he had to serve a one-year jail term.

After serving eight months, an agenda by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative to help free culprits of minor petty offences has helped secure his freedom.

The human rights body believes minor offenders such as Richard should be made to serve non-custodial sentences and not thrown into jail.

It was a normal day for Richard until his friend asked him for a fun trip. He says after he complained about his financial difficulties, his friend later managed to convince him to snatch a woman’s handbag on the street. An alarm was raised, and he was nearly lynched.

Richard was fined ¢360 ($63) by a court. His inability to pay landed him in the Ankaful and the James Camp Prisons later.

“My mother and family members did not visit me at the police station. I am happy I am free now.  I did not get anyone to pay the GH¢360 for me. Prison is not the best place to live.

“We did not get food here. The soup was like a mirror I could see my face in it anytime I am served. Humans are not supposed to eat that. I will advise young people to be careful out there,” he said.