“First 2-3 weeks after my release from the prison were very difficult for me, I could not adapt to people”, says Maria,former prisoner.
Maria is 45 years old; before her arrest she used to work as a teacher at University. It was very difficult for her to live in freedom in first 2 -3 weeks. During the first days in freedom she got the psychological support only from her family and friends. Officially she isn’t employed anywhere, though privately teaches Georgian language to few enrollees, which serves her as the only source of income. In all workplaces employers are interested in the past of the potential employee and it is very hard to find job because of people’s suspicious looks at a person who has been arrested before. However, Maria sees positive change in the attitude to ex-prisoners nowadays.
«I remember when I told that have been in prison, people looked at me strangely, only few people could understand me, but nowadays I feel that it has changed»
Now Maria takes a rehabilitation course in the Center for Crime Prevention and Innovation Program, regularly coming to the center, discussing her problems with social worker and receiving psychological support. She learnt about the center from the TV. Attending the rehabilitation course helped her lot to get adjusted to the society.
Studies show that after spending several years in prison it is hard for prisoners to get adjusted to society again. Many ex-offenders commit crimes again to get back to prison because they can’t find employment or they get strained family and marital relations.
Georgian prison system went officially from the Ministry of the Internal Affairs to the Ministry of Justice authority in January 2000, in accordance with the requirements of the Council of Europe.And there is not special law in Georgian legislative devoted to the social adaptation of prisoners.
In 2006 year Human Rights Watch Organization representatives gave several recommendations to Georgian Government after having made observations in Georgian Judicial system. Advices were focusedonsocial adaptation of prisoner, including makingnew reforms in the social adaptations of prisoners andgiving them essential meaningful activity opportunities such as work and education.
How these advices are being implemented? According to the representative of HR department at the Ministry of Justice LashaShengelia, on January 24, 2013 Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia along with the Ministry of Justice signed the Memorandum. According to it they will start working on different projects in order to help ex-prisoners to socialize and rehabilitate after their release from prison.
"Social workers, Psychologists and the non-governmental organizations will be participating in these rehabilitation programs, "says LashaShengelia.
In order to implement the requirements of the ordinance of ministry in January 2013 Center for Crime Prevention and Innovative Programs within Under the Ministry of Justice was created. From the first days of its creation organization started a project of Resocialization and Rehabilitation program. The main aim of this program to give a rehabilitation support to people realized from the prison.
David Maisuradze, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Innovation Programs says that in the frames of program many social workers were involved to work individually with each prisoner. Social workers start meeting withinmates three months before their release from prison and continue working with them for six months.
“At an early stage, social worker meets with a prisoner which includes 1-3 meetings, meeting processes cover the family of a prisoner also. This is called the primary evaluation process, after the evaluation, the case can be closed or continued for full implementation. This step bases on preparing of individual service plan for an ex – offender”, says David Maisuradze.
According to him program is voluntary and prisoners are encouraged but not obliged to involve.Theprogram offers meetings with social worker and psychologist as well as provision of necessary legal support, help in getting professional skills, health and care.
As the improving of professional skills is very important for former prisoners,Maisudaze saysthey are going to begin different professional training courses including plumping, welding, accounting, office management, computer skills development, as well as writing of professional resumes for employers.
BekaGotua is a social worker in this project. As he saysthere are 7 social workers who do the same work; go to prisons and try to rehabilitate prisoners and help them to get adopted to free society. Gatua mentions about their work results: among 700 prisoners who have participated in rehabilitation process only 8 ex-prisonerscommitted a crime and returned to prison.
«Prisoners don’t like the society that they see after the release; they think values have changed, views and interpersonal relations between people lost value », says TikoAmirejibi, psychologist of the rehabilitation program.
During her work Amirejibi met many people, who don’t want to go out of the prison as they think that it is easier to live in the prison. They get food, do not have to pay taxes and don’t have employment problem. Friends and relatives of many prisoners don’t come to visit them and it makes them sad, they think that maybe the society and community they belonged and people who were considered their friends aren’t actually their anymore. This case also disappoints them and “kills” the desire to go out; they prefer to be inside with friends they have in prison.
The treatment process consists of several stages, firstly psychologist gather information about the prisoner, writes a case report and formulates the patient’s problem.
“I meet with prisoners once a week, talking with them about their problem and explain why they have these symptoms, trying to help them to get over of it”, says Amirejibi.
Psychologist also mentions that the difficulty of former offender adaptation mainly depends in how much time they spend in prison; people who have lived more in jail adequately socialize intractably. According to her it is easier to work with male patients rather than female because most of the women cannot concentrate on their exact problem, they are divided between family and children.
“Men are more focused on problem solving and they demand to give them the ways of solving their problems, if they have concept of what to do they do it and many are happy with the results”, says Amirejibi.