Rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners

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 assists 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. All guidance and advisory services are based on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) - UNODC's 'normative compass' in this regard.

In support of this objective, UNODC has developed a ' Roadmap for the Development of Prison-based Rehabilitation Programmes', which provides practical guidance for prison administrations in order to assist them in developing high-quality and sustainable rehabilitation programmes that meet international standards. Additional guiding tools published under the auspices of the Global Programme are the ' Handbook on Anti-Corruption Measures in Prisons' and the second edition of the ' Introductory Handbook on the Prevention of Recidivism and the Social Reintegration of Offenders'. Another tool currently under development is a practice-oriented handbook on the classification of prisoners.

These guidance materials form the basis for the concrete technical assistance provided by UNODC, in a second step, to selected Member States around the world to support the implementation of new or enhanced prison-based effective rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes. Sound planning, including the proposed programme's responsiveness to local needs, human rights compliance as well as sustainability provided key selection criteria for such support, which focuses on education, vocational training and work programmes for prisoners.

Supporting self-sustainable national brands of prison products

In a third step, UNODC is supporting the creation of national brands of prison products aimed at enhancing prisoners' work and products with a view to generate income for prisoners, increase their self-esteem, qualifications, and employability upon release, as well as, more generally, to raise awareness in the general public that prisoners are a continuous part of society.

UNODC is preparing a technical guide to assist Member States in creating or strengthening their national brand of prison products emanating from prison-based work programmes in line with international standards. The guide will focus on requirements in terms of safeguards to preserve prisoners' rights, and on requirements related to marketing and the organizational set-up of such a brand.

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New rehabilitation opportunities for prisoners in Kyrgyzstan

New rehabilitation opportunities for prisoners in Kyrgyzstan

For decades, UNODC has provided technical assistance and advisory services to Member States on crime prevention and criminal justice in numerous sectors. One key area has been its work on prisoner rehabilitation programmes, encouraging the fair and humane treatment of prisoners, and helping prepare them to reintegrate society after having served their prison sentences. 

With the United Nations General Assembly's adoption in 2015 of the Nelson Mandela Rules, of which UNDOC is the guardian, penal reform programmes have been increasingly set up to strengthen prison management and improve prison conditions, and to facilitate the social integration of prisoners upon release.

Strengthening offender reintegration in Asia: UNODC and Singapore conduct regional training workshop on correctional rehabilitation

Strengthening offender reintegration in Asia: UNODC and Singapore conduct regional training workshop on correctional rehabilitation

Prisoner rehabilitation is both key to protecting society from crime as well as helping prisoners be better prepared for their release. Towards this, training and reintegration initiatives, coupled with post-release support, are essential towards reducing recidivism.

Working to this end, UNODC and the Government of Singapore recently conducted a joint regional training workshop on correctional rehabilitation, bringing together some 63 officials from 16 Asian and Pacific Island countries who are integral in their areas for prisoner rehabilitation activities.


#ANewChance in Bolivia: A Better Solution to a Safer Society

Prisoners might be deprived of their freedom but not their rights!

Under the Doha Declaration Global Programme, we are working hard to promote prisoner rehabilitation and provide inmates with #ANewChance.

Derrick's Story - A New Chance

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.