Presentation on theme: "EMBARGOED : 13 SEPTEMBER 2010 (16H00) THE ACSA BIENNAL CONFERENCE 13 – 17 SEPTEMBER 2010 ACCRA, GHANA Theme: Advancing the frontiers of Change through."— Presentation transcript:
EMBARGOED : 13 SEPTEMBER 2010 (16H00) THE ACSA BIENNAL CONFERENCE 13 – 17 SEPTEMBER 2010 ACCRA, GHANA Theme: Advancing the frontiers of Change through corrections
Topic: From Prison to Society: Making the Correctional Task Complete by Ensuring Social Reintegration Presented by: Jairus G. Omondi, CBS Senior Corrections Advisor, UNAMID - SUDAN
Introduction The paper intends to explain the core role of correctional systems through prisoner management; which involves processes of reception, classification, treatment and care as well as life support programming, in effective social reintegration of prisoners in the community. Social reintegration, as a correctional task can only be achieved if correctional systems create enabling environments for offenders’ rehabilitation. Social reintegration must not only be the objective of the prisons systems but of the entire justice system and the larger community in any jurisdiction.
Crime and punishment have historically remained subjects of intense discussion everywhere in the world whether in the developed or developing countries. Some Sociologists and Criminologists have argued that punishment is an important mechanism by which Society retains its moral authority to punish those who do not respect the rights and dignity of others. Such theorists argue that offenders should be heavily punished so that society can be protected.
Other criminologists hold that offenders are victims of socio - economic and psychological forces in society and that society has a moral responsibility to make amends by treating offenders compassionately and with understanding in order to rehabilitate them. Whatever view one adopts, it can be said that punishment whether for purposes of retribution, incapacitation, deterrence or rehabilitation, needs to take into account the basic inviolable Human Rights, liberties and essential human dignity of the individual.
It is important to note that management of prisons is primarily about the management of human beings. Imprisonment does not take away the rights of offenders but temporarily curtails their freedom of movement and association. This fact is amplified in the UN International Convention on political rights Article 10 (1) and (2) which state thus; “…….All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person…..” and “…..The Prison system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation…..”.
The articles reaffirm the mandatory inevitability to adhere to the guiding human rights principles with regard to treatment and care of offenders as well as the management of prisons, and also underscore the centrality of rehabilitation as the core objective which determines the success of a correctional system. The achievements of the provisions of the articles are based on how well classification and placements of prisoners are conducted by correctional systems for the purposes of achieving both public protection and rehabilitation objectives.
Classification and placement of prisoners Classification and placement of prisoners play critical roles in helping to balance between security and the provision of rehabilitation programmes to prisoners. Classification according to security needs determines the placement institutions and processes (type of prisons suitable for different kinds of prisoners) and the programmatic areas that are likely to benefit them. It is based on the nature of the offence, age, gender, sentence and the criminal history of the prisoner.
For instance, separating prisoners and placing them according to their categories; male adult offenders, female offenders, juveniles, pre-trial detainees, mental health prisoners being placed separately and according to their offences and length of sentences. Juvenile offenders should be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status. When this has been completed, then, the rehabilitation programmes can be appropriately administered to prisoners. This would ensure that individualized programmes for prisoners are designed to address and meet their individual needs. Consequently, the prisons system would be able to make the best use of the establishments for the common good of all, ensuring safety and security for all; prisoners, prisons staff and the community as a whole.
Rehabilitation Rehabilitation within the prisons context is the intervention mechanisms designed by correctional systems and applied to address the offending behaviour of prisoners in order to make them whole again. Rehabilitation should be the central focus and primary objective of any criminal justice system that hopes to uphold the rule of law; ensure good governance and democratic practices in the administration of justice and management of correctional systems. Rehabilitation contributes to public safety and security as well as national development. The process of rehabilitation should commence at the point of offenders entry into the justice chain. It should be the principle guide to all institutions involved in the administration of justice (chain linking)
While many jurisdictions (countries) recognize the significance of rehabilitation and have taken steps to entrench it in the national legislative provisions, practical examples on the ground are still lacking or where they exist, their development are rudimentary due to the retributive nature of the justice systems, their structures and the processes of justice delivery. The consequent to these are the correctional systems that are lacking in effective programmes that can provide life support system within the community settings to facilitate effective social reintegration. It is within these contexts that offender rehabilitation remains a mirage. Research work that has been carried on prisons and the justice institutions, in many countries in Africa give testimony to this scenario. Research findings are that most of the re-entry programmes such as vocational programmes, education and psychosocial are in different degrees and states of development while others are non functional due to associated challenges such as overcrowding and general lack of resources.
Purpose of rehabilitation Rehabilitation aims at contributing to public safety and security by ensuring that re-offending amongst prisoners is minimized by enabling them to acquire skills which they could readily use for support and sustainability within the community setting once they are released from prison. This will give them a new lease of life to enable them cope with the consequences of imprisonment as they are prepared for community reintegration. On admission prisoners are introduced to the prison environment where his fears are addressed and rehabilitation opportunities availed to them.
Types of Rehabilitation programmes Rehabilitation regime comprises a number of various intervention mechanisms that are employed in varying degrees to provide purposeful and corrective measures or activities for prisoners. The programmes basically include; vocational skills training, psychosocial programmes and education. There is also the emerging remote parenting and open day visits which basically provide prisoners with opportunity to have quality time visit with family members, particularly children.
While vocational skills training development remains the primary feature of prisons programmatic areas, psychosocial, education and particularly the remote parenting and open days have emerged strongly as areas of interests. Remote parenting and open days have a direct bearing to community reintegration. Remote parenting is a correctional reform innovation which addresses the social rehabilitation function of the correctional systems and impacts very positively on the society in terms of creating the enabling environments in the society for prisoners reintegration.
It is a holistic approach to carrying out complete rehabilitation of prisoners for social reintegration as it deals with the psychological, mental, emotional and social needs of prisoners in order to address their socio-economic needs, reconcile them with the community; first by providing a forum for the nuclear family meetings, and secondly, creating opportunities for the acceptability of prisoners by the society. It enables the family and community to contribute in the social rehabilitation of prisoners both within the prison setting as well as the community environment, strengthening the support system for their effective social reintegration upon release. This approach reduces stigmatization drastically.
Reintegration Prisoners’ re-integration is the overall purpose of a successful criminal justice system and the process begins from the time prisoners are admitted to prisons to serve various terms of sentences awarded by courts. The process is required to serve a broader purpose and should be both proactive and reactive in accepting the responsibility of making prisoners ready for resettlement as rehabilitated members of the community.
The entire criminal justice system should aim towards successful prisoners’ re-integration, which consequently would lead to crime reduction in the community and hence public safety and security. In prisons, deliberate efforts must be made to ensure that prisoners are put through programmes which prepare them for community reintegration. The envisaged success in social reintegration can only be possible with the involvement of the wider community which must create a facilitating environment conducive for prisoners’ reintegration. Without the role of the community, all the efforts of the entire justice system will come to nothing.
Challenges to Social Rehabilitation and Reintegration A number of challenges contribute to lack of prisoners rehabilitation for social reintegration. These factors are highlighted below: 1.Overcrowding Overcrowding is a major challenge to carrying out purposeful activities in prisons. Overcrowding leads to overstretched use of the already dilapidated prison facilities most of which were built in the colonial era. For instance, prison facilities meant for rehabilitation programmes are converted to accommodation wards for inmates due to overcrowding. This has led to the dismantling of the structures for prisoners’ rehabilitation.
2. Training and Capacity Building In many countries, the qualified staffs to administer rehabilitation programmes to prisoners are too few to enable them carry out this function effectively. With overcrowding, it is very difficult for the few staff members to develop prisoners’ individualized programmes. The staffing challenge is compounded by lack of resources to carry out the training of staff as well as invest in prisoners’ programmes development.
3. Broad Based Policy Initiative There is lack of integrative criminal justice policy, as every agency is busy pursuing its own operational policy framework. This leads to serious policy conflicts with devastating impacts on the overall goal of the correctional systems. For instance, whilst the prisons advocates for rehabilitation of prisoners for community reintegration, the police philosophy of policing revolves around toughness on crime and pivots on what works and prison works for them since it keeps offenders away from the streets’. The courts wield unequal measure of power and will, exercising unparalleled discretion and sending to prison anyhow anybody, whom they choose, irrespective of the circumstances surrounding the offences committed. In this regard, there is urgent need for an integrated criminal justice policy to help streamline the operations of the justice systems so that it can holistically address the needs of the society.
4. Excessive use of Prison Custody by the Courts Excessive use of custodial sanctions by the courts impedes community participation in the rehabilitation process. The courts have tended to use custodial options even in situations which require mere caution or community sanctions. These practices curtail the functioning of the justice chain, and more specifically the prisons which end up receiving all those committed under its care.
Conclusion Recognizing the critical role played by the correctional systems worldwide, is of paramount importance and that appropriate structures need to be put in place to facilitate effective rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners. The Correctional Systems in Africa must cease the opportunity to assert themselves to be considered a priority area by their governments and organizations responsible for their managements for the necessary support to enable them execute their mandate for the purpose of promoting a peaceful and secure society. It is also important that ACSA takes the lead in appealing to governments to give correctional systems the prerequisite support for developments. The ACSA should champion development of correctional systems in Africa and where possible establish links with African Union (AU) and other correctional professional bodies and adopt some of the best practices so as to usher a new era in the development of correctional systems in Africa.