Improving the delivery of Services
Mauritius Prisons Service

The Problem

Admission of convicted and unconvicted was only a formality. When suicide cases started to be registered, an Evening Reception Board was put in place and which later became the Induction Unit. It must be recognized that since the operation of the Evening Reception Board there has been practically no cases of even an attempt at suicide. A multi- disciplinary approach was adopted whereby every unit that had a bearing on the welfare of detainees was pulled on board. It became binding for example for Welfare Officers, Prison Medical Officers, Hospital staff, Officers in Charge of Kitchen, Clothing and Accommodation to provide the basic services that could create a home like environment. In fact the saying to the effect that’ people are sent to prison as a punishment and not for punishment’ started at least to be followed in an austere environment.

However the location of that would be Induction Unit was not appropriate. All admissions were registered at the Central Prison where the threat for security for some category of detainees became a source of concern. With the outbreak of HIV/AIDS cases and the integration of infected detainees with all amenities created the right environment for an Induction Unit. It must be acknowledged that the day of admission for anyone coming to prison for the first time is a traumatic one. The network of services put in place has alleviated to a large extent the grudge, anger, grief and anxiety omnipresent in the mind all newly admitted.

Many cases of fine & cost, bail eligibility, medical treatment, Medical screening, arrangement for social aid in the absence of the bread winner, communication facilities for local and foreign national amongst others are being tackled to the satisfaction of the majority of admissions. The involvements of NGOs are also being encouraged during that process. The relief this endeavour brings to families of detainees is felt through interactions. There is a long way to go because, after having embarked on such a initiative which is a dynamic one, there should always be a need to rethink about this process.

The Problem of women detainees – a major human rights concern
1. Admission is presently done in a formal and routine manner while neglecting the psychological effect of imprisonment in the life of a human being. Women being considered as vulnerable are distorted and shattered with the effect of imprisonment.
2. The admission procedure includes the detainee’s identification, searching, the handing over by the police, filling of personal information form which is included in the penal record, verifying and keeping of personal property, informed of her rights and privileges in an informal way without ensuring that she is in a state of understanding, seen by the medical staff and eventually by the welfare officer. The detainee is then sent to the residential block where she is allocated with an accommodation, without any psycho-social support.
3. Classification and sentence planning are not included in the procedures which represent a great loophole in the rehabilitation process which is also one of the major reasons for recidivism.
4. At present there is no good structure and programme for peer support which is a most valuable asset in the women prison.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
In order to be an International Human Rights compliant Organization, we need to promote Human Rights and Human Dignity and start the normalization process in prison, the introduction of a well structured Induction Unit is in the pipe line at Women Prison, which facility is already in place at the New Wing Prison since few years and is also in the process of enhancement.

The Induction Unit includes all categories of inmates, viz. new to custody, convicted, unconvicted, those changing status, transferred from another establishment, the elderly and disabled, young offenders, women, lifers and foreigners.

Besides the admission procedure, provision is made for staff and peer support, Life plus programme to assess risk of self-harm and suicide tendencies, specific programme on a case to case basis, provision for a personal kit, communication facilities and a different location to facilitate the induction process and integration in the life of the establishment where the concept of Needs based Induction is applied

Induction is a process not an event. The following procedures include the Core Components of the process:

Deal with immediate and urgent needs
Enable detainees to cope in custody
Provide information, both about custody generally and the routine of the particular establishment / A copy of Rights and Responsibilities is handed over to each detainee on admission.
Ensure that the detainee feels confident asking for help
Continue the assessment process
Help to integrate the detainee into the life of the establishment
Aid the transfer from induction to the unit/block/wing
Help develop the support plan of any detainee identified as at risk to self.

A timetable is devised for each inmate for the induction process to ensure that he/she is fully occupied. Depending on the classifications and assessment of needs of the individual detainee; he/she may be channeled to the appropriate rehabilitation programme.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The whole concept is the initiative of the Commissioner of Prisons and his Senior Management Team.

The Induction Unit has been introduced at New Wing Prison as a pilot project. The following groups were actively involved in the design:

- Senior Management Team
- Prison Officers posted to the New Wing Prison
- Medical and Para Medical Staff
- Prison Welfare Officers
- Peer Support Services of selected detainees

As a Pre Test to this pilot project, a group of the selected officers and representatives of NGOs and Executive Directors of various Private Companies participated in a mocked exercise – Public Private Partnership and thereby encouraging the involvement of the Civil Society.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
• Setting of a Working team and Core Group led by a leader
• Setting of goals for each area of development namely: Technical, Documentation, Art and Decoration, Service and Human Resource.
• A strategic plan has been devised
• Monitoring team under the chairmanship of the Commissioner or his representative
• The aim is to assist and support the detainee’s integration into the establishment; to continue the assessment process; and to enable the detainee to remain safe, make the best use of his time in custody, and prepare for a law-abiding life after release.
• The purpose is to inform detainees about prison life, the regime and their responsibilities and privileges and to begin to prepare them for their return to the community.
• The induction process enables detainees to approach their time in custody constructively in order to gain the maximum benefit from their sentence. It also enables prison staff to begin to explain the standards expected in prison and to establish the culture of the establishment.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
- All detainees on admission are being provided with an appropriate Induction Process.
- A separate unit in the New Wing Prison has been identified to carry out the process.
- All detainees on admission are being provided with a copy of their Rights and Responsibilities.
- Detainees feeling anxious and at risk of self-harm and suicide are having a psycho-social support by Psychologist and Welfare Officers. Some detainees who have been carefully selected and trained are having a valuable role in setting the detainee into the life of the establishment by contributing to this process.
- The process also facilitates the smooth transition for the detainee from entering custody to following a normal prison routine as they may have anxieties about mixing with others.
- Equipping detainees to use the period in custody constructively and safely.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
At the initial stage of the Project, staff showed a resistance to change in the proposed process. A Training Module on the Induction Programme for Detainees were included in the Refresher Course to which practically all staff irrespective of ranks attended and were briefed accordingly.

To improve communication system between reception and induction to ensure that relevant information about new detainees are passed on to other units within the prison.

A proper transfer procedure with clear guidelines is provided to staff so that safety, security and other needs of the detainees are satisfied. The training of staff and peer support detainees to work in a Dynamic Security Unit was established based on the establishment of relationship building, engaging detainees in purposeful activities and focusing on the individual.

A Team of Multi-Disciplinary staff has also been appointed to identify, review and make recommendations to improve the delivery of service.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The whole initiative has been divided into five major components with specific goals as follows:
Technical: to review and upgrade existing infrastructure surrounding the induction process at New Wing Prison and Women Prison

Service: To devise a more professional approach in respect of welfare and health services from admission and induction until discharge
The service area encompasses a Personal Case File on admission, Introduction /Intensify Life Plus Screening, Renewed focus on assisting in bail and fine, Set structure for Dynamic Security Support, Devise Induction Plan/Programme

Documentation: To provide documentary support to the admission and induction procedures.
Such as; Induction Book, Informative pamphlets, Check List, HR manual,
Search manual, DVD for induction unit and visitors, review and update penal record, setting of documentation and information desk

Human Resource: To devise training plan for peer support group, medical staff and prison officers to make optimum use of human resource in the induction process while taking into consideration staff and detainees’ welfare

Art and Deco: To upgrade the physical environment, inner and outer, with appropriate design, positive thoughts, decorative plants, relaxing colours etc. and make it more environment friendly to uplift the moral of the newly admitted inmates.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Induction Unit is definitely sustainable and transferable. With a good structure, training programme, dedicated staff and inmates the Induction Unit will be most important time in the life of a detainee which will assist each and every inmate to plan their sentence and inculcate in them good practices to promote self confidence and make them into responsible and law abiding citizens upon their release.

The Induction Process will gradually be extended to all penal institutions within the Mauritius Prison Service. Each establishment must have induction arrangements which can be varied in response to the needs of detainees. Arrangements are in place for staff to ensure the safety and well-being of the detainee, particularly during his/her first night in prison. In addition to suicide / self-harm risk assessments, a cell sharing risk assessment is also completed before a detainee is locked for the first night – Evening Reception Board constituting of the Officer in Charge of the Establishment, the Prisons Welfare Officer and the Hospital Officer.

During the Induction Process, relevant information are explained to detainees in a language they understand, including that they will be allowed reasonable facilities and access to specialist advice to preserve outside links and supportive factors – social aid, vocational training and employment, education, specialized treatment and family ties. First time detainees will have the greatest needs for induction and must be accorded particular attention.

All the general principles in the process refer to women, but additionally staff must be aware of and respond to the issues that are more likely to arise with women and which are particular to them. Some detainees may have particular difficulty in maintaining links with their relatives. This mostly applies to foreign nationals detainees and those with close ties abroad. They are allowed to enjoy telephone facilities and they are offered the opportunity to contact their Embassy.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
This project has eventually helped detainees to accept their imprisonment with a positive mindset and help them to adapt to the system and ultimately reintegrate the society as a law-abiding citizen. Since the setting up of the Induction Unit, there has not been any case of self-harm, assault on co-detainees and suicide.

Detainees who have been in the process of induction are more receptive and supportive to discipline and prison administration. Some of them are even being used under the Peer Support Scheme.

Some key elements that contributed to the success of the programme:

- Continuity and sustainability of the Programme.
- Some detainees are motivated and are very inclined to join in the Peer Support Scheme.
- Dedicated and committed staff developed a better working relationship with detainees.
- The process is constantly subjected to review and improvement.
- It is compatible and based on the principle of normalization which makes life in prison as is in the community.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Mauritius Prisons Service
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Jean BRUNEAU
Title:   Commissioner of Prisons  
Telephone/ Fax:   464 4823/454 9778
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Prisons Headquarters,Beau Bassin
Postal Code:  
City:   Beau Bassin
Country:   Mauritius

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