The Prison Reform and Integrate Programme, part of the SEP, focuses on transforming individuals released on parole from the correctional system to lead productive lives by re-building their reputation within the community and instilling confidence in them to carry on with their lives. Launched in October 2007, the Reform and Integrate Programme is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
As in many countries, once imprisoned, individuals, even if rehabilitated and motivated to mend their ways, face an uphill task to re-establish themselves within the community as regular citizens, due to a lack of adequate re-integration systems in place. Many employers shun people who have been convicted and are unwilling to take risks. The consequence therefore is that many of these prisoners are unable to sustain themselves once released which increases their chances of resorting to crime once again.
It is a vicious cycle which undoubtedly contributes to the high recidivism rate of nearly 50 percent and the Prisons SEP was established with the objective of attempting to break this cycle and give these individuals a second chance at life. Prisoners are carefully selected for the programme and must have a good rehabilitation record during their period of incarceration. Those selected must also have undergone vocational training within the correctional system or as in SEP those that have prior experience in a vocation are supplied with the tools of their trade so that they can establish a means of earning an honest livelihood.
Since its inception in 2007, over 270 former prisoners have benefitted from the programme which has been hailed as a success in combating recidivism. The MJF Charitable Foundation works closely with the Prisons Department to ensure that the Reform and Integrate Programme objectives are fully realised and that every prisoner who wishes to be rehabilitated will be supported to establish themselves in a suitable livelihood with support from the Foundation.