SPS rehabilitation programme |23 March 2021
Six male prisoners chosen to work on Coetivy Island
Six male prisoners from the Montagne Posée Prison left yesterday morning on board an Islands Development Company (IDC) plane to follow a rehabilitation programme on Coetivy Island.
This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Seychelles Prison Services (SPS) and IDC earlier this month which gives prisoners with good behaviour the opportunity to work on outer islands managed by IDC. The rehabilitation programme being run by the prison service, in collaboration with IDC, is aimed at giving convicts the opportunity to be productive in society while serving their time.
It also provides them with certain necessary skills for their future life after prison. It forms part of the Phoenix (2) rehabilitation project whereby low risk prisoners are allowed to work for private companies for an allowance (under supervision of both the company and prison guard).
While on the island, the first cohort, under the management of IDC, will also be under the watchful eyes of their prison guards. They (inmates) will engage in day to day duties which will include work in agriculture and livestock farming, cleaning, construction and the making of copra and coconut oil among other assigned duties.
Arriving at the IDC hangar before embarkation, the six inmates did their antigen test (Covid-19) and were later frisked by officers of the Seychelles Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) for illegal substances.
It is to be noted that only one of the prisoners is fully vaccinated with the Sinopharm (two doses) while the rest, having taken the first dose, will be later given their second dose along with other IDC staff on the island.
The Superintendent of Seychelles Prisons, Raymond St Ange, explained that the inmates chosen for the programme are all low risk inmates.
He said they have been chosen through set criteria by the SPS with regard to good behaviour, drug free and in good health.
He noted that some of the inmates were carrying sentences for sexual assault, robbery, among other offences.
He pointed out that although those inmates have been convicted for what are considered as serious crimes, their behaviour from the start of their prison sentences have been exemplary in terms of compliance with prison rules and regulations.
“We want to start with a small group to see how things work out,” Supt. St Ange said.
He added that the length of time they will spend on the island will depend on their good behaviour and on the needs of IDC.
He noted that while they have minimal years (one to two years) to serve in prison, the prisoners are expected to work on the island till the end of their sentences.
Superintendent St Ange stated that SPS and IDC will review their performances after one month before another batch of prisoners is sent.
He noted that SPS is planning to send a maximum of thirty prisoners to the island as the programme develops, a total which IDC claims it will be able to manage.
“We are very happy to partner with IDC and all the other private companies that the prison services is working with to rehabilitate and reintegrate an offender back to society, back to his family as a positive citizen,” Supt St Ange said, noting that SPS is in discussion with IDC for inclusion of female inmates in future cohorts.
According to IDC’s island operations manager, Michel Coopoosamy, the inmates will be paid an allowance of R6000 where R2000 will go towards the SPS. From the R4000 left, the inmates will be allowed to use R1500 a month to shop for basic goods in the island’s shop or else the money will go with the remainder in their accounts.
With regard to accommodation, Mr Coopoosamy said the prisoners will be housed in reconditioned facilities used in previous rehabilitation programmes on the island.
Before boarding the plane, Supt. St Ange called on the inmates to think positive and make good use of the opportunity given to them for their own benefit and that of their fellow colleagues.
He also called on them to show the people in general that they (inmates) will be ready, after serving their sentences, to integrate back into society.
The six inmates were accompanied on their flight by two prison escorts and they were not allowed to speak to the press.
If the Coetivy programme is successful, it will be extended to other outer islands.
The rehabilitation programme on Coetivy was first launched in August 2012 but had to be scrapped in September 2019 as a result of lack of manpower to deal with the level of bad behaviour among the large group of semi-free inmates. It was wholly managed by SPS at that time.