Convicts in the Seychelles’ prison can volunteer to take part in the rehabilitation programme offered by the facility in collaboration with the Island Development Company (IDC) from the beginning of 2022, said a top official.
Through the Phoenix Rehabilitation project, low-risk inmates at the Montagne Posee prison, on the main island of Mahe, have the possibility of working for the government’s IDC on Coetivy Island in agricultural and livestock production among other activities on the outer island. The programme is also geared towards providing inmates the opportunity to be productive in society while serving their time.
The prison’s superintendent, Raymond St. Ange, told SNA that since the programme started in March 2021, three groups of prisoners have worked on Coetivy, with six currently partaking in the programme. Some inmates who were in the first group returned to Mahe, the main island as they have completed their prison sentence, whereas some had to come back due to behavioural issues.
Six inmates are currently waiting to be interviewed by officers from the prison and IDC before joining the others. This is the second time this year that the prison service accepts volunteers into the programme. A third selection might be made towards the end of the year depending on the needs of the programme on Coetivy.
St. Ange said that there are six inmates taking in the programme currently. (Seychelles Prison Services) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
“If the whole batch is accepted into the programme, there will be 12 inmates on Coetivy, allowing us to come closer to the target of between 15 to 30 inmates that IDC is looking for,” said St. Ange.
Before the interview is carried out, a notice is put up allowing interested inmates to submit their names. A prescreening process is then carried out before the formal joint interview with IDC.
Successful inmates earn an allowance that they can partially use to support their families, pay fines, or use to buy items from an IDC managed tuck shop. The prison service also ensures that the inmate has funds left that they can use when completing their sentences.
“Working on Coevity provides the inmate with a clean and stress-free environment, giving them the chance to see another aspect of life in a quiet place,” added St. Ange.
St. Ange said that more prisoners could have gone on the programme but a high number of them are addicted to heroin while many others have medical conditions.
“Many of the inmates are coming in with addiction and they are placed on the methadone programme. We cannot send people who are on the methadone programme to Coetivy as they need to take their dose daily, and this restricts us in a way. Only drug-free inmates can be enlisted,” said St. Ange.
He also outlined that inmates with medical conditions requiring daily treatment also do not qualify for the programme. Inmates who are violent are screened and worked with before they can be considered for the programme.
“At the moment we are not accepting people who are serving a life sentence but it is something that is always under discussion. There are inmates on life sentences who have for a long time been participating really well on programmes on Mahe and rebuilding their lives,” said St. Ange.
There are currently 30 inmates serving a life sentence – 29 men and one woman.
The government opened a minimum-security ‘open prison’ facility on the Coetivy in August 2010 for inmates found guilty of minor offences such as theft. It was later used for prisoners with drug addictions for rehabilitation purposes. The prison facility was closed in February 2020. This new Phoenix Rehabilitation project was launched under a new concept in partnership with the IDC.