21 November 2019 - The pace of prisoner rehabilitation programmes is gaining traction around the world, with more penitentiary systems looking for ways to better prepare prisoners for reinsertion into society after completing their sentence. Such programmes not only contribute to helping prisoners become financially independent upon release, but have also been proven to reduce the possibility of recidivism.
This month, nine male prisoners proudly received their diplomas for Electrical Installations, after successfully completing the first advanced Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) at the Jericho Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre in the State of Palestine.
Launched in 2018 with the help of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration and its Prisoner Rehabilitation component, the training and certification is held over four months for a limited number of prisoners, whose selection criteria includes their general motivation for enrolment, good health and minimum level of studies, in addition to the length of their sentence and the projected date of their release.
With this prisoner rehabilitation programme, a first in the country, the Correctional and Rehabilitation Centres Directorate (CRCD) seeks to provide prisoners with better opportunities to get back to the job market after release; as skilled workers, they can seek employment in a company, open their own business, or even pursue more advanced technical programmes. Importantly, the certificates they receive make no mention of their holders' imprisonment at the time of their training.
The graduation ceremony was held in the presence of UNODC officers and national counterparts involved in the programme, including representatives from the Ministry of Interior (CRCD) and from the Ministry of Labour (General Directorate of Vocational Training).
Addressing the graduates, CRCD Director Colonel Miqdad Sleiman spoke of his anticipation that the certified prisoners' upcoming release would give them an opportunity to lead a full fruitful life: "We are waiting for you to return back to the community and benefit it," he told them.
Likewise, UNODC Programme Management Officer, Alejandro Matta, noted the importance of this certification as the prisoners prepared for life after release: "The new skills you have acquired through this training will positively contribute towards your personal and professional development; we hope this will support your successful reintegration into your communities and society at large."
The sustainability of this initiative also rests on the completed training of two CRCD officers, with the support of UNODC; these officers will remain stationed at the Jericho Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre and provide the training to selected prisoners over the next four to five years. The management of the rehabilitation programmes, from the selection of the prisoners until their certification, will be carried out by CRCD in continued cooperation with the Ministry of Labour.
With the next group of prisoners having started the same four-month training programme this week, Nidal Ayesh, of the Ministry of Labour, remarked: "Although I have attended many ceremonies before, I have to tell you that there is a good, different feeling here today."
This rehabilitation programme and the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration are supported financially by the State of Qatar.