Sharjah jail 1-1641287652350
Inmates at Sharjah jail Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments in Sharjah has launched a unique rehabilitation project for the establishment’s inmates who are about to be released as well as for their families, in cooperation with the Department of Social Services in Sharjah.

Brigadier Ahmad Shuhail

In an exclusive interview, Brigadier Ahmad Shuhail, Director-General of Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, told Gulf News that the project included two categories — inmates who are about to be released, and the families of the released inmates.

The programme targets inmates who have been convicted for drug charges. The inmates are required to enrol for the programme four or five months before their release. The programme is based on a study about the number of inmates coming back to the facility after their release and it addresses the social and psychological challenges that inmates and their families often face.

The programme was introduced last August. Currently, there are 20 inmates who have enrolled for the programme, which has been designed to support the inmates’ re-entry into society and enable their families to overcome the social problems they face.

Removing barriers

Brig Shuhail said the programme tackles a variety of psychological and emotional problems and helps remove the barriers of fear and hesitation that may haunt the inmates after their release. The programme aims to make it easier for the inmates to reintegrate back into mainstream society.

The programme includes dialogue and guidance sessions conducted through a distance learning system that offers training on anger and stress management, life planning and sessions related to maintaining quality family life and social intelligence.

The second phase of the programme is meant for families and is aimed at raising awareness among an inmate’s family members on how to deal with the inmate after his or her release from the punitive and rehabilitative establishment and how to provide a safe family environment to him or her.

Brig Shuhail said that Sharjah Police General Command is keen to secure the human and legal rights of inmates, apply best practices in the field of reforming, rehabilitating and reintegrating them into society and providing services that will help enhance the quality of life of released prisoners and their families.

Captain Khalfan Salem Bin Shaqwa, director of the Educational and Rehabilitation Branch, told Gulf News that the main purpose is to help inmates adopt a positive way of thinking, enabling them to better cope with life during incarceration and after their release. While primarily meant for Emiratis, this programme is also for inmates of other nationalities and religions — primarily with a history of narcotics-related offences.

The inmates have so far shown a very positive response to the programme.

Sharjah jail 2-1641287654337
Inmates at Sharjah jail Image Credit: Supplied

Remarkable results

One of the inmates, who enrolled for this initiative and will be released in the coming months, told Gulf News: “As a result of the pre-release [training] course, my attitude towards life has changed and the relationship I have with other people is a lot better now. This course has helped restore my faith in myself, because without this programme, I would have still been living a life of confusion and ignorance. Thanks a million.”

The inmate added: “Each day brings with it a new experience. Therefore, each day I am amazed at the positive attitude and way of thinking that I have achieved, thanks to this course.” He has also finished reading 500 books (in different languages) during his stay at the facility.

What the programme offers

• Study the psychological, social and financial aspects of an inmate’s case. Conduct individual, group and family meetings for the benefit of the inmate.

• Provide guidance and advise to the inmate and his or her family.

• Coordinate internally and externally to address the issues faced by the inmates.

• Conduct case studies and identify the challenges they face in an effort to develop intervention plans and find appropriate solutions for them.

• Provide rehabilitation programmes according to the outcome of case studies to prepare the inmates to be socially integrated after their release through short courses or on-going programmes.

• Provide social and psychological counselling over the phone or field/office visits upon request from the released inmates and their families.

• Provide an after-care programme for inmates and their families to help them communicate, to provide family therapy sessions to prepare them for release, and to socially empower them.