The new remand centre, with the capacity to house 120 people, is currently under construction at Perseverance. (Seychelles Prison)
With a focus on restorative justice, inmate management by category, and officer training and development, the Seychelles Prison Services are transitioning to the Seychelles Correctional Services in its new strategic plan, said a top official on Thursday.
Providing media houses with an update on the operations of the institution, the commissioner of the Seychelles Prison Services, Raymond St. Ange, touched on four key areas the service will be focusing on in its upcoming strategic plan for 2024 to 2029.
“The immediate first step is to align our operations to include restorative justice and address the mental health situation, as well as create awareness on the matter as it affects a lot of the people going to prison. A percentage of the prison population has a background of trauma that has placed them on this path, though it should be noted that not all people who are traumatised end up becoming a criminal,” said St. Ange.
St. Ange shared that the prison services will be working with other ministries to create awareness and recognise that the environment within the society to which released inmates go back is not the most conducive for their mental health.
Managing inmates by category and separating them into facilities on different campuses is another area of focus. A new remand centre, with the capacity to house 120 people, is currently under construction at Perseverance. This will have holding cells for young girls and boys, women, and men separately.
A second facility for youth offenders will be set up on Praslin for young people who have been sentenced. Prison services will be working closely with the education, health, family and ministries.
The construction of a high-security prison is also within the plan.
“This facility will be built in two phases and we expect it to be operational sometime in 2024. Both phases will see the commissioning of 20 cells that will hold 2 inmates each. This facility will operate under high-security mode – meaning 23 hours in the cell and one hour in the yard. The yard will connect directly with the cell. Visits will be highly controlled,” said St. Ange.
|Work will be done on the Montagne Posee prison to improve its environment and facilities. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
The current Montagne Posee prison will undergo work to improve its environment and facilities. A low-risk facility will be built at this location to hold 40 people per unit.
“We will manage Montagne Posee by unit, and this was a recommendation made by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). We will also have an induction facility where people who have just been sentenced by the court will come to be accessed and later sent to the appropriate facility,” said St. Ange.
The plan will also include officer training and development at training academy levels. The Prison Services are looking to partner with the University of Seychelles, with aim to have the formation based on correction services.
The 2024-2029 strategic plan will also see the Seychelles Prison Services transformed into the Seychelles Correctional Service.
“This is expected to take place in 2025. It is a better fit for us, for the management of the outputs, halfway house, out-client care, and mental health. We need to invest in what we need to do and reach a point where we can offer better services,” said St. Ange.
Other key areas include reducing reliance on the state budget, introducing electronic monitoring, encouraging alternative sentencing for certain offences, and bettering health management and care.
“We seek to continuously improve and progress forward. Our staff remain committed to seeing that we do become and are regarded as a premier correctional institution. We are certainly determined to rehabilitate those who have committed crimes and have been convicted to serve their time positively. Our ultimate aim where possible le is to successfully reintegrate back to society those who fell and succumbed to negative influences,” said St. Ange.
The Seychelles Prison Services currently hold 285 inmates and 128 remandees.