Adopted at the conclusion of the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Doha Declaration highlighted the importance of adopting 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 supported Member States in establishing a more rehabilitative approach to prison management.
Indeed, investments into corresponding programmes for prisoners were indicated as 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.
While concluding as part of the Doha Declaration Global Programme at the end of September 2021, UNODC’s important prison reform work, including in the area of prisoner rehabilitation continues as part of the organization’s wider crime prevention and criminal justice activities. More information on this is available here.
UNODC is providing prison administrations and related stakeholders 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 international standards and rules.
UNODC assists Member States in breaking the cycle of re-offending by supporting the implementation of new or enhanced prison-based effective rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes in 10 countries wolrdwide with a focus on access to educational, vocational and work programmes to increase prisoners' skills and employability upon release.
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.
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 these times of global upheaval, some segments of society can be forgotten as big stories compete for attention. Improving the lives of every member of our communities remains the priority for UNODC at all times when it comes to peace, justice and strong institutions, and that includes the circumstances of prisoners as they embark on skills training to provide them with a new chance in life.
This month in Tajikistan, UNODC's Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, part of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, marked another milestone in working with the Tajik authorities to improve prospects for the social reintegration of prisoners.