The Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) has launched a rehabilitation program for the recently released inmates who were serving time for minor drug offences.
A special ceremony was held today to launch the program which was attended by many of the parents and participants of the program.
The State Minster for Home Affairs, Ahmed Adhil, said this was the first phase in a program designed to reintegrate the former inmates back into society.
“As part of the program we will instill religious spirit, change attitudes and behaviours, teach them how to solve everyday problems and prepare them to move back into society,” he claimed.
The first part of the program started today, with a lecture on religious spirit and education by Sheik Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim Rasheed of Madrasathul Arabiyya.
The program is set to run for a minimum of three months, but the ministry has said it will try and extend it to six.
“We realise that some families are considering taking their sons overseas for treatment at their own cost, and as a ministry we will do all we can to make this possible,” Adhil continued.
“A huge responsibility has been bestowed on the parents. Without them we could not have started this program.”
Adhil also said that all participants would be subject to random drug tests.
Director General of the DPRS Mohamed Rasheed told the former inmates that “no matter what we say, it’s the parents who will influence you the most, that is why we have sent you back to them.”
Rasheed also highlighted that the program had been heavily criticised by many opposing groups, and that it was important for all participating members not to let themselves and the DPRS down.
Public outcry was sparked when news of the rehabilitation program was made public, with many linking it to a recent crime wave.
“No one we have brought to Male’ has yet been accused of any crimes,” said Rasheed. “It is important for the public not to point fingers until police formally charge someone.”
One of the most difficult obstacles the participants will face is acceptance back into society, he said.
“Many employers will not give people like this a second chance, and this is something we have to change – there can be no discrimination.”
There are currently 62 former inmates enrolled in this program, with more than 150 still awaiting clearance.
“The current criteria to be accepted into this program is that the offender must have no pending files at the prosecutor general’s office, and must have been in possession of three grams or less of narcotics when arrested,” said Adhil.
Speaking on the public concern about the inmates being in Male’, Adhil noted that “we are keeping close tabs on all the participants, and once a day, every day, we check to see if they are home.”