We the undersigned entities unequivocally condemn the ongoing uncertainty at the prison, aka Correctional Services Agency.
As more inmates and their families come forward to speak out, we commend them for their courage and openness.
As entities committed to social wellbeing, we recognise our responsibility to be advocates for justice and human dignity.
The number of deaths registered at this facility in these last years has tragically climbed to 13 individuals, including the recent deaths by suicide of a 30-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman. Data from the Council of Europe confirm that the suicide rate at our prison ranks amongst the highest in Europe. This fact, combined with dubious operational methods more distinctive of a long-gone archaic prison model, is extremely concerning. One needs to keep in mind that the corrections phase is an essential one in the continuum of services within the criminal justice system. When this fails, it puts the whole system at risk and causes significant collateral damage.
We are deeply troubled by:
- the lack of transparency following these deaths. In most cases, inquiryoutcomes were not made public. This lack of access has hampered the ability of academics, policy makers and professionals to provide insight and substantive recommendations that help improve sub-standard services within the facility. It also prejudices the ability of inmates’ family members to achieve closure following their bereavement.
- the inadequate reaction currently being provided by our state authorities in response to this crisis. It took yet another suicide for an inquiry on current operative procedures to be commissioned.
- the long-delayed actions or lack thereof, to bring about the necessary reforms that would provide us with a modern and effective corrections model.
For these reasons:
- we call on the State to take an active role in monitoring activity in theprison;
- we call for full responsibility to be shouldered if incompetence is proven;
- we recommend a designated Ombudsperson for Prison and Probation;
- we recommend that efforts are made to monitor existing conditions ofconfinement, re-think the use of solitary confinement, while also developing substantive mechanisms to recommend best practices as related to the health, safety, welfare, and the rehabilitation of inmates;
- we believe that rehabilitation in Malta’s correctional system must be a process founded on family and community support. Therefore, there should be actionable care plans for families of inmates;
- we believe we need to invest in a restorative justice system that ensures, for example, Victim-Offender Reconciliation (VOM) which could play a fundamental role to make sure our justice system is truly restorative and thus move away from the current retributive model, which does not benefit anyone;
- we insist that leadership of the right kind is at the helm of this institution. There are endless experts in this field that can contribute in taking this Institution to another level.
On concluding, we promote a shift in outlook for our correctional system – one that ensures justice but is also founded on compassion and rehabilitation. It is imperative that a long-term and deep-rooted review of current practices is initiated, to produce radical reforms that prioritise the dignity of prisoners, their families and the victims. Rehabilitation and social reentry must be at the heart of the service delivery.
The current focus on punishment, retribution and disparagement must be critically scrutinised both in terms of its effectiveness and its overall justification by the current facility management.
We pledge to work together with communities and national authorities to ensure that a myopic focus on punitive and retaliatory justice is replaced by a more holistic system of restorative and rehabilitative justice that must be centred on the wellbeing of the individual, the community, and society as a whole.
- aditus foundation
- Alleanza Kontra l-Faqar
- Doctors for Choice Malta
- Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group
- Hearing Voices Malta
- Integra Foundation
- KNŻ – Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ
- Kummissjoni Gustizzja u Paci
- Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU)
- LGBTI+ Gozo
- Malta Association for the Counselling Profession (MACP)
- Malta Association of Social Workers (MASW)
- Malta Dementia Society
- Men Against Violence
- Migrant Women Association Malta
- Millenium Chapel
- Moviment Graffiti
- National Parents Society of Persons with Disability (NPSPD)
- Oasi Foundation
- Occupy Justice
- Office of the Dean of Education
- Office of the Dean for Social Wellbeing
- Peace and Good Foundation
- Richmond Foundation
- SĦS – Studenti Ħarsien Soċjali
- Social Assistance Secretariat (Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija)
- SOS Malta
- St Jeanne Antide Foundation
- The Anti-Poverty Forum Malta (a Forum of 17 NGOs)
- The Critical Institute
- The Safeguarding Commission
- Women for Women Foundation
- Women’s Rights Foundation