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.
Increasingly the world over, the concept of rehabilitation is winning ground over that of punishment when dealing with prisoners. Penitentiaries around the globe are striving to effect change by providing inmates with opportunities during their sentence, so that they can more easily be reintegrated into society and become, once again, active and fulfilled members of their communities.
International standards include the Nelson Mandela Rules, of which UNODC is the guardian, stipulating that imprisonment should not be limited to the deprivation of liberty, but that it should be a time for the re-education of prisoners. Rehabilitation includes a number of venues, but for UNODC's Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, resources and support have been developed in the three core areas of education, vocational training, and employment during prison years, with the goal of contributing to the prisoners' employability after release, and thus reducing chances of recidivism.
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for people across the globe, with COVID-19 impacting individuals and entire societies physically, mentally, socially and financially in an unprecedented manner.
For those in prison though, as well as for the officers in charge of looking after them, the pandemic has proven even more potentially devastating. With factors such as poor hygiene conditions and oftentimes overcrowding, living and working in close proximity makes it near impossible to follow recommended measures, such as frequent handwashing and social distancing.
In episode 1 of UNODC's new interview series, 'Rule of Law Conversations', the Doha Declaration Global Programme chats to Betsy Apple, Advocacy Director and Head of Democracy and the Rule of Law Division at the Open Society Justice Initiative, about these and other issues on this critical topic.
Since its inception in 2016, the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration has reached literally millions of people across the world, promoting peace, justice and the rule of law. Through education; through sports; through prisoner rehabilitation; and through promoting a corruption-free judiciary, UNODC has been working tirelessly to leave a lasting impact on global crime prevention and criminal justice efforts. As we move from one Crime Congress to the next, this video showcases just a handful of those with whom we've collaborated, offering their voices on role of this unique Global Programme.