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.
As the guardian of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), UNODC has a long history of providing technical assistance and advisory services to the Member States in the field of prison reform. Its Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, therefore, includes a dedicated component on strengthening the rehabilitation of prisoners, including their social reintegration upon release.
The Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) and the General Directorate of Penitentiary Institutions of Kyrgyzstan have recently become amongst the national prison administrations that will receive technical support from UNODC to enhance the range and quality of rehabilitation programmes.
Since 2010, the United Nations has celebrated today as Nelson Mandela International Day to recognize the birthday of South Africa's former President and his outstanding contribution to a culture of peace and freedom. For UNODC, Nelson Mandela International Day is also a time to draw attention to the more than 10 million prisoners worldwide as well as to the work of those entrusted with their safe, secure and humane custody.
With the memory of Nelson Mandela in mind, who himself had to spend 27 years of his life in prison, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners in December 2015 as 'the Nelson Mandela Rules'.
Developing a global brand of prison products moved a step closer to being realized this week with the bringing together of key prison administrators from across Latin America. Part of the Doha Declaration Global Programme, the event was organized to explore new and innovative approaches within the Latin American region which are being used to mitigate the social, economic and personal challenges faced by prisoners and reduce the risk of recidivism through rehabilitation. By identifying programmes which support prisoner's ability to lead self-sustained lives, the aim is to support the wider ideal of promoting a culture of lawfulness.