Adopted at the conclusion of the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Doha Declaration highlights the importance of supporting measures to support the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners into the community.
Within the framework of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration and its pillar on fair, humane and effective criminal justice systems, UNODC supports Member States in establishing a more rehabilitative approach to prison management.
Investments into corresponding programmes for prisoners are one of the best and most cost-effective ways of preventing their re-offending, with significant benefits not only for the individuals concerned, but also for public safety more broadly.
Supporting rehabilitation programmes in prisons
UNODC will assist Member States in breaking the cycle of re-offending by providing prison administrations with technical guidance on how to initiate and/or enhance rehabilitation programmes, in close coordination with other (non-)governmental stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector. Care will be taken to carefully base all guidance and advisory services on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) - UNODC's "normative compass" in this regard.
The above development of guidance material will, in a second step, be complemented by UNODC delivering concrete technical assistance to selected Member States around the world to support the implementation of new or enhanced prison-based rehabilitation programmes. Sound planning, including the proposed programme's responsiveness to local needs, human rights compliance as well as sustainability will provide key selection criteria for such support, which will focus on education, vocational training and work programmes for prisoners.
In order to support associated prison policies, UNODC will further develop a standardized electronic prisoner file management system - a software which will enable national prison administration to generate, store and analyze reliable data about their prison population. This is not only a precondition for tailoring rehabilitation programmes to actual needs among prisoners, but also a crucial instrument to ensure transparency and accountability in prison settings.
Launching a self-sustainable global brand of prison products
In a third step, UNODC will consider the initiation of a self-sustainable global brand of prison products - 'A New Chance' - which will be geared towards generating income for prisoners; increasing prisoners' self-esteem, qualifications, and employability upon release; as well as, more generally, towards raising awareness in the general public that prisoners are a continuous part of society. The feasibility of doing so will be assessed in the context of a corresponding study, which will analyze, in detail, requirements in terms of safeguards to preserve prisoners' rights, and on requirements related to marketing and the organizational set-up of such a brand.
Indonesia's 450 prison facilities currently house over 250,000 prisoners - the mere number indicating the challenge with which the prison administration is faced in ensuring their safe, secure and humane custody. In running these, the country's Directorate-General of Corrections (DGC) is presented with additional issues, such as severe overcrowding, staff shortages, and - an aspect which is often less well known among the general public - the task of preparing prisoners for their eventual social reintegration into society. This undertaking, however, is crucial, as it is rooted in the understanding that imprisonment alone is incapable of addressing the social reintegration needs of offenders, and that without educational and vocational training programmes, many prisoners fall into the cycle of re-offending upon release.
International standards stipulate that imprisonment should not be limited to the deprivation of liberty. Rather, it should include opportunities for prisoners to obtain the knowledge and skills that can assist them in their successful reintegration upon release, with a view to avoiding future offending. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) call for the provision of rehabilitation programmes in prisons that foster the willingness and ability of prisoners to lead law-abiding lives upon release. As the guardian of the Nelson Mandela Rules, UNODC has published a new handbook to provide a series of practical steps for prison administrators in order to assist them in developing high-quality and sustainable rehabilitation programmes that meet international standards and norms.
In this podcast, we talk to Derrick who spent six years in prison in Zambia before being acquitted. We spoke about life in prison and his decision to open up a Prisoner Reintegration and Empowerment Organization, which - supported by UNODC's Doha Declaration Global Programme - helps former prisoners start a new life.
Work-related activities within prisons play a critical role for both prisoners and society. Rehabilitation provides prisoners an opportunity to develop skills, increase post-release employability and contribute to families and society.
UNODC's work supports this and we're looking to build a global brand of prison products to further boost rehabilitation efforts. Recently prison practitioners from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, EL Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay gathered to discuss this issue, bringing with them a vast selection of items from their countries.