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Prisoners Acquire Skills, Contribute To Society In South Sudan

Photo: UN Photo

Content by: South-South News

3 June 2013, New York USA | Connor Schratz - The issue of prisoner rehabilitation is one that puzzles a great many countries, both rich and poor alike. Be too light on criminals and there is little deterrence to bad behavior; too harsh and you risk violating basic human rights and brutalizing softer criminals and leaving them with little option but a lifetime of mischief.

 In South Sudan, the world's youngest nation and the UN's newest member, a new program aims to rehabilitate prisoners and provide a public service.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has teamed up with the Jebel Osman prison to create a program that allows prisoners to work as farmers during their incarceration. The food that they grow and harvest is then used by the prison to feed inmates, who until recently had been forced to cope with hunger in the prison.

"Inmates, prisoners are expected to acquire things in agriculture activities so that by the time they leave the prison they will go out and well engage in farming, and this will enable them to change from their criminal way of life to be able to live as free and responsible citizens," explained Charles Oyewole, a corrections officer at Jebel working with UNMISS.

The Jebel project seems to be working. It is both meeting the food requirements demanded by the prison and helping inmates acquire skills that they can use when free to stay out of prison in the future.

"When I am rereleased from the prison I will be continuing farming, because I will get for me some land, dig and help my family," said Justin Sebith, a prisoner at Jebel.

UNMISS hopes that it can use the success of Jebel as a model for other programs, and give all prisoners in the country a chance to gain skills and use their time inside as productively as possible.

"This year we will be supporting delivery of a sustainable agriculture project that would generate food for every prison in the country," explained Raisedon Zenega, the deputy special representative of the Secretary-General in UNMISS. "This is an ambitious but essential task which would require partnership with all concerned and with several agencies."


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