President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca saud that there is the need for the establishment of a Family Intervention Unit within the Corradino Correctional Facility.
She was delivering the opening speech at a public lecture entitled ‘Engaging Offenders with their children and families’ organised by Fondazzjoni mid-Dlam għad-Dawl with the support of G4S Malta, at The Palace, Valletta.
The President spoke about the difficulties offenders encounter when they re-enter society, which are made worse in a relatively small community like Malta, where offenders are well known and therefore marginalised at the outset.
She mentioned that when offenders re-enter society, they are faced frequently with lack of access to employment, lack of education and lack of decent housing, all of which lead to poverty, and subsequently they find themselves returning to crime.
All this leads to 75% of the prisoners in Malta being repeat offenders.
“In the meantime, children and families of offenders continue to suffer unnecessarily, not only from the stigma associated with imprisonment of a family member, but even more through the consequences this has on the whole family”, the President said.
It is here that the President mentioned that there is the need for the establishment of a Family Intervention Unit within the Corradino Correctional Facility. The President explained that this unit ‘would need to be manned by professionals from the social and psychology fields, by specifically-trained family relations officers and family therapists”.
The Family Intervention Unit will possibly help to raise public awareness of the plight of children with incarcerated parents.
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca also called for the need to have adequate sentence planning “that focuses on incarcerated persons being active during their time spent inside the prison”, whilst she also remarked that for offenders to take that first step towards a decent, productive life outside the prison walls, the same offenders need to be given the possibility to have work opportunities and adequate training.
With 200 foreign nationals at Corradino Correctional Facility, the President suggested that there should be the possibility of use of electronic communications for these foreign national prisoners to have access to communication with their families in other countries – communication being a very important dimension of incarceration.
The President praised Children of Prisoners Europe, for their determined efforts to ensure that children receive their definitive right to maintain contact with their imprisoned parent, in cases where it is beneficial to the child. “In most cases, regular contact and communication greatly increase the self-esteem, resilience and social development of these children”. Whilst saying this, she stressed on the importance of having a responsible body to assume accountability of children of prisoners and act as their voice.
Concluding, the President encouraged NGOs working with prisoners here in Malta to continue to strive in their mission to empower families of offenders to reach beyond their current situation and look to the future with hope and determination for a better life. She also commended Mid-Dlam għad-Dawl for commissioning a study on the plight of families and children of offenders during the period of incarceration, a study which is being funded by The Malta Community Chest Fund through its Fund for Voluntary Organisations.
The public lecture was held as a follow-up to a conference which was organised by Children of Prisoners Europe last May in Stockholm, during which President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca had delivered the opening speech. Yesterday’s lecture was also addressed by Mr Corin Morgan-Armstrong and Mr Mark Griffiths from G4S Care and Justice Service (UK). Also in attendance was Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela.