ONE of the best ways to save tax dollars is to keep people out of jail.But someone being released from jail or prison often faces numerous challenges getting back into society without the repercussions of their legal history.
Working together with local agencies to assist those individuals is the goal of the Jedidiah Trust, which has on Friday launched a re-entry programme geared to help offenders get back into society, not by a “free ride” but through support programs to help them be successful.
Having a job to earn money for housing, food, transportation and other necessary living expenses is imperative to helping deter the urge to commit a crime. Those who are battling alcohol and drug addictions are offered support systems to resist that temptation and may well be a primary factor in the commission of violent crimes.
The processes involved in keeping an offender from going back to jail (recidivism) involves a comprehensive case management approach and builds life skills to become a law-abiding citizen who contributes positively to society and to the economic work force.
Bridging the gap between the legal charges and employers is just one avenue that the NGO focuses on. Substance abuse programs, vocational rehabilitation and training, and other support programs are recruited to be involved in the overall management of the offender.
“The main object is that we want to empower inmates and their families to cope with the challenges during incarceration and even after incarceration. Our programs are designed to empower inmates, their families and society at large and to facilitate, rehabilitate and reintegrate through educational support, psychosocial support for inmates and their families,” Jedidiah board chair Gertrude Mandizvidza said in an interview on the sidelines of a fundraising dinner in Harare on Friday night.
“We do a number of things but I will mention a few. The first one is counselling to the both the offender and the offended. The counselling sessions are meant to assist the inmates during and after incarceration. Counselling is meant to help the inmates understand why they committed crime and how best they can reform. The other sessions are meant for the offended so that they can forgive the offender.
As Jedidiah trust our major reason behind counselling is to help the inmates so that they do not repeat their mistakes. We also want the offenders to be educated. We call volunteers to help with funds to assist the inmates to acquire education as a human right. We also help women give birth in prisons as we assist with food and other things,” Mandizvidza said.
Lovemore Chikwanda, the founder of Jedidiah, urged members of the community to join hands in support of initiatives to help rehabilitate inmates.