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.

Launch of the Handbook on the Classification of Prisoners

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Promoting a more humane criminal justice system, UNODC launches brand new prisoner classification guide

Promoting a more humane criminal justice system, UNODC launches brand new prisoner classification guide

With nearly 11 million people incarcerated at any given time across the globe, prison management and the treatment of prisoners are two essential areas within the criminal justice system. Critically, to ensure that imprisonment is used as an opportunity to correct rather than punish, prison administrations must be able to correctly classify prisoners - an important move which helps bolster their ability to rehabilitate and reduce reoffending.

Being able to correctly classify prisoners impacts an array of prison management aspects: it best determines the assessment of inmate risks; it improves the safety and security of prisoners, prison staff and the general public; it bolsters human rights-based custody; and, ultimately, it builds a more effective way of operating a prison system.

With UNODC support, Namibia prisoner rehabilitation project helps stop COVID-19 spread

With UNODC support, Namibia prisoner rehabilitation project helps stop COVID-19 spread

The rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world has demonstrated that everyone is susceptible to the ravages of this virus, with some population groups more at risk than others depending on their age and health conditions. While these factors  have been widely publicized , there are some groups which remain less visible in the public eye, but which are nevertheless an integral part of society; prisoners, for whom social distancing is not an option in tight spaces, are unable to take the same precautions as most other members of society.

UNODC's mission to promote crime prevention and criminal justice, amongst others, places strong value on the social rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners.


Finding Peace with the Law

Overcrowding in prisons is a global issue, including in Indonesia where rehabilitation facilities originally designed to house around 130,000 people are now nearing double that capacity.

At parts of efforts to resolve issues such as this, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime launched a prisoner rehabilitation project in the Semarang Female Correctional Facility. Developed under the Doha Declaration Global Programme, the project aims to lower the reoffending rate by providing prisoners with vocational training in batik - the country's traditional fabric dyeing technic. By obtaining commercially viable skills that can be used post-release, prisoners earn #ANewChance to reintegrate into society and avoid conflict with the law in the future.

Becoming a New Person - The Story of Asih Yulianti

Since 2000, the global female prison population has increased by 50%. This story of Asih is one example of how rehabilitation programmes supported by UNODC's Global Doha Declaration programme help provide inmates with equal opportunities for #ANewChance upon release.