UNODC-supported Prison Forum Highlights Social Reintegration of Offenders

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What steps should be taken to facilitate social reintegration of offenders was the main topic for discussion at a major international prison forum held on 28-29 March in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The event was organized by the State Penitentiary Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Penal Reform International (PRI).

According to Vice-Prime Minister, Zhenish Razakov, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic is committed to improving prison management. “We have made some progress in specific areas, such as medical care for prisoners, conditions of detention and material support”.

The forum provided a platform for experts and practitioners from over 15 countries to exchange  experiences in the field of prisoner rehabilitation and the management of prison facilities.

“The Kyrgyz Republic is taking steps to bring the functioning of its penitentiary system in line with international standards governing the rights of offenders both during detention and after release," said Taalaybek Zhaparov, Chairperson of the State Penitentiary Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Alexander Fedulov, Head of the UNODC Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic, noted various achievements, but also stressed new challenges: “During the years to come additional efforts are needed to improve the management of high risk offenders, including violent extremist prisoners. The creation of a new probation service to manage non-custodial sanctions is another priority.”

Forum participants reviewed good practices in the management of prisons from the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Korea and Turkey, and also studied the role of non-governmental organizations in assisting the prison system of the Kyrgyz Republic with the social reintegration of offenders.

“Successful reintegration of offenders in society is a key factor in reducing the risk of reoffending after release”, said Alison Hannah, PRI Executive Director. “In the UK some companies provide training to prisoners whilst they serve their sentences and then offer them jobs upon release. Employers include major chains of shoe repair shops and bakeries”.

According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), the primary purpose of imprisonment – namely, the protection of society from crime and the prevention of recidivism – can only be met if the period of imprisonment is used to assist prisoners in leading law-abiding and self-supporting lives upon release.

With this in mind, forum participants discussed a draft action plan to promote the social reintegration of offenders and developed a set of recommendations to bring the penal system of the Kyrgyz Republic in line with international standards.

UNODC supported the penitentiary forum within the framework of its Program for Central Asia 2015-2019.

 

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For more information please contact Vasilina Brazhko (Ms.)

Communication Officer, UNODC ROCA

Mob. +996 775 98 78 17, E: vasilina.brazhko@unodc.org