The Malta Independent 20 January 2022, Thursday

Updated: CCF’s physical capacity significantly strained, staff numbers still short - NAO

Wednesday, 1 December 2021, 16:33 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Corradino Correctional Facility is overcrowded and understaffed, an investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.

In a report presented by Auditor General Charles Deguara to Speaker Anglu Farrugia, the NAO also says that local legislation does not specifically impose sufficient obligations on the Correctional Services Agency with regards to an effective system of rehabilitation.

Specifically, the NAO observed that the requirements calling for rehabilitative efforts in standing legislation are few and somewhat malleable when compared to others, particularly those relating to discipline and security.

“This, NAO feels, leaves care and reintegration initiatives in a situation in which they have to compete with, rather than complement, stronger legal obligations such as those relating to discipline and good order.”

In relation to this, NAO found that, while significant efforts have been made in recent years to design care plans for CCF’s inmates, care and re-integration initiatives are still not reaching the entire prison population.

“This is evident through the low number of work placements (both inside and outside the facility) and educational opportunities being provided to inmates. While acknowledging that these factors are also affected by issues extraneous to the agency, NAO still feels that these opportunities are too limited to be considered an adequate prison-wide effort towards rehabilitation through work and education.”

The office said it observed a general sense of order, organisation and cleanliness throughout CCF and acknowledged notable recent infrastructural improvements.

“While mostly noting the facility’s generally unobjectionable state of repair, this Office did however identify some shortcomings in this respect which may be unduly compounding (though not to a critical extent) the already intrinsically difficult nature of incarceration.”

It said that, while it acknowledges that the agency neither has control over the number of inmates who have to be detained at the facility, nor on set segregation requirements – both of those emanating from local legislation or as imposed by the courts – it noted that CCF’s physical capacity is significantly strained.

“This brings about obvious negative consequences, particularly on security, hygiene and privacy.”

This review showed how, based on figures provided by CSA, drug abuse within CCF has declined considerably. These figures depict what can be considered as a controlled situation within an environment which is conventionally prone to challenges in this area.

Through this study, NAO also observed that the complement of Correctional Officers and Care & Reintegration Professionals has increased in recent years.

Despite this, however, the number of staff in both segments still falls short of the targeted complement, even if what constitutes the latter is not supported by any comprehensively documented study.

While NAO is concerned with the lack of a centralised electronic information system within CCF up till writing of this report, it acknowledged the agreement signed with a third-party provider which will provide CSA with an Offenders Management System. It also acknowledged that CSA has initiated the process for its policies and procedures to be developed and drafted.

These issues, along with others, are comprehensively presented in the audit report together with this Office’s recommendations.

This report, in its entirety, may be accessed through the NAO website www.nao.gov.mt  as well as on the NAO Facebook page www.facebook.com/NAOMalta.

 

Agency to evaluate NAO recommendations - ministry

Reacting, the Home Affairs Ministry said the NAO had confirmed that a number of positive reforms had taken place at CCF.

It pointed to the NAO’s comments about cleanliness at the facility, the drastic decrease in drug availability, infrastructural improvements, including the Medical Intervention (MI) room, and the proper keeping of records.

The ministry said the NAO had also acknowledged the investment in human resources and the strengthening of professional services at the prison.

It said the NAO made a number of recommendations which the agency will be evaluating, together with the recommendations which are expected to be put forward by the inquiry set up at the instructions of Minister Byron Camilleri. That inquiry is expected to present its findings in the coming days. Camilleri has pledged to publish the report.

In a statement, Camilleri welcomed the findings of the NAO report and said the ministry will now continue building on the good work carried out over the past few years.

 

 

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