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Returning prisoners to society


The objective of any work involving prisoners is the return of the prisoner to society. The entire institution of a prison is involved in rehabilitation to a greater or lesser extent. The objective of social rehabilitation is to help prisoners maintain and establish significant positive social contacts outside of prison, boost their coping capacity, and influence prisoners to act in a law-abiding manner. As, normally, unlawful behavior is caused by the person’s personal and social issues, social rehabilitation encompasses personal, economic, and legal issues related to a particular prisoner.

Prison-based return of a prisoner to society may be categorized in three stages: the acceptance stage, the basic stage, and the release stage. In the acceptance stage, emphasis is laid on family safety, the ways in which a job could be maintained, and the need to secure one’s property. The prisoner’s alcohol and drug related issues are identified as well as their professional skills, work experience, and the desire to acquire education in prison. Based on the information above, the prisoner’s individual treatment program is prepared. Prison psychologists use discussions, tests, and questionnaires to ascertain the prisoner’s mental and emotional state, and make proposals as pertaining to the planning of the time spent by the prisoner serving their sentence. Psychologists also assist prisoners in adjusting to changes.

In the basic stage, the prisoner gains legal assistance in social issues, support in maintaining and restoring relations with family members, help in establishing or maintaining contact with employers, and support in coping with learning difficulties. Specialists support prisoners in their return to society through both individual counselling and group work (incl. social rehabilitation programs). The objective of social programs is to teach prisoners social skills which would help them cope in society in a law-abiding manner. 

In the release stage, the prisoners are assisted in solving issues caused by lessened contacts outside of prison. Oftentimes, prisoners have lost their social ties, place of residence, job, and income. Preparing for the release, the prison provides help in obtaining relevant documents, finding a job and residence, and applying for support by way of general welfare services. If a prisoner has the opportunity to be released on parole, the prison provides an assessment of the prisoner’s mental state and readiness to return to society as a law-abiding citizen.