Zambia’s prison system is the worst in Africa. Its 25 thousand convicts are forced to live in spaces designed for eight thousand and die due to lack of water, food and care. CELIM, in collaboration with Prisons Future Foundation (PFF), has launched a projectthat offers professional trainingto prisoners and helps them reintegrate into society.
Objective: skill development of former inmates, socio-economic reintegration and building a safe, fair and inclusive society.
1,452 convicts involved
According to a ranking published by the US magazine “Forbes”, Zambia’s prison system is the worst in Africa. Inmates are forced to live crammed into tiny cells. 25 thousand inmates (3% women and 2.5% youth) are packed together in a space designed to hold eight thousand convicts. In the rest of the world, only in Haiti, in the Philippines and in El Salvador, do convicts live in worse conditions. In Zambian prisons, inmates die because of a lack of water, food and care: there is no access to medical services or medicines, and infrastructures are insufficient. In particular, the needs of women and children are not adequately addressed. Pregnant women do not receive adequate treatment nor nutrients adequate to their condition, and the children of female inmates are forced to share meals with their mothers.
According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules), the main purposeof incarcerationis to protect society, rehabilitate prisonersand reduce relapse. A recent analysis, however, showed that three out of ten prisoners in Zambia are arrested and sentenced again within six months of their release. Former convicts pose a threat to society because while on detention they have not been allowed to start out on paths of social reintegration.
The project comprises two separate stages. The first stage envisages setting up training courses. In the seven prisons where CELIM operates, professional courses (electrician, carpenter, mechanic, etc.) will be organized for inmates. Inmates will then be helped to take the relative professional qualification exams. The basic idea is to help them build skills that they can use once they get out of prison. The project also includes building chicken coops. This has a dual value: to offer the chance to learn chicken breeding and to generate funds for the penitentiary that can be reinvested in the education of inmates.
The second stage will focus on the economic and social reintegration of inmates. Centres will be created where, following their release, groups of former inmates will be able to work together (also as a cooperative) and offer their fellow citizens their tradesmen’s services. In line with this context, actions will be set in motion aimed at achieving family reconciliation and acceptance by the community, encouraging prisoners’ meetings with their relatives and with their victims, and offering counselling and follow-upservices after their release.
The direct beneficiaries will be 1,452 inmates who must serve a sentence of less than 4 years in seven penitentiaries in Zambia (Kaoma 140; Kalabo 133; Senanga 145; Mongu 482; Mumbwa 179; Mazabuka 305; Nakambala Approved School 68). Added to these are the 20 co-ordinators of the training activities, 17 people in charge of the psychosocial services in prisons, 12 employees of the employment office and 19 social workers. All will be given specific training that will enable them to implement the project’s activities, each within their own field of expertise.
to guarantee a professional training course
to help take professional qualification exams
to help set up a centre for former convicts
to support the entire reintegration process of a former prisoner