“I want to make the most of my time, even in prison, and this training should help me find a job later,” said Denny, 31, who has just over two years left on a sentence. five years in prison. “Of course, I knew how to make coffee before, but here I’m learning about the different flavors, smells and aromas, and the artistic side of coffee making.”
Denny is one of 200 inmates at Tangerang Class IIA Correctional Facility and among more than 35,000 inmates across Indonesia who are undergoing vocational training, from eco-printing on textiles to agriculture. While learning to be a barista behind bars, he said he hoped to find a job at a cafe after his release.
Salis Farida Fitriani, who runs the correctional facility, said the program aims to build a better future, but job training alone is not enough for inmates to succeed in the outside world.
To cope with a society that often stigmatizes them for life, she says, the prison offers training in personality development, counseling and religious education.
“Our goal is to provide positive activities and training for inmates,” she said. “The program includes personality development as well as vocational training to help with their future livelihoods.”
Breaking the stigma of “ex-convicts”
Starting a business is difficult after serving a prison sentence, said Haswin, a 32-year-old former drug addict. Leaving Tangerang Correctional Facility in January 2022, he now operates his own cafe, mixing modern and traditional cafe styles with mocktails and snacks.
“Life is so much better now,” Haswin said, adding that his former job as a bartender was a primary factor in his involvement in drug offenses that led to his arrest in 2018.
“I’m more satisfied with life and proud of my creativity,” he explained. “I never thought I could find a career outside of nightlife.”
Now his work is no longer just a “means to make ends meet”, but a new opportunity.
“I want to break the stigma around ‘ex-offenders’ by showing that ex-offenders can be independent and creative too,” he said.
From sports programs to university programs
Tangerang Class IIA gives prisoners a chance to do just that. They can also compete in professional sports at Tangerang, a prison unique in Indonesia to provide a comprehensive college education program. Open to prisoners across Indonesia, a pilot program currently serving 200 inmates is set to roll out nationwide, subject to funding, Ms Fitriani said.
Asep, a third-year Islamic studies student at Syekh Yusuf Islamic University, said that like many other participants in the program, he could not afford to go to university in his life before prison. .
“I always wanted to learn, but my economic situation did not allow me to study,” he said.
Following the same curriculum the university offers to its regular students, Asep and his classmates attend classes three times a week for six hours a day. After graduating and before the end of his prison term, Asep said he hoped to help his fellow inmates by offering them religious advice.
“I’m learning a lot about the world and life outside,” he said. “It helps me better manage my long sentence. It will also help others. »
Adapted to the needs of prisoners
With the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), training programs are designed using a set of assessment tools that provide evidence-based approaches tailored to the individual needs of inmates.
Correctional officers use these tools to assess and better understand inmates, including the level of security risk they may pose, their compatibility with the program, and their likely reaction to education.
Within UNODC prisoner rehabilitation initiativewhich emphasizes education, vocational training and employment during incarceration, the objective is to contribute to the employability of prisoners after their release, thus reducing the risk of recidivism.
With this in mind, the agency has partnered with Indonesia’s Directorate General of Corrections to create an assessment matrix that helps prison officers build psychological and security profiles of inmates and allows staff to track their progress,” said Rabby Pramudatama, Program Officer at UNODC’s Jakarta Office.
“We have to make sure, for example, that we have inmates who are unlikely to disrupt lessons and who will cooperate with teachers and their fellow students,” he said.
UNODC also collaborates with and supports non-governmental organizations such as Second Chance, which help detainees reintegrate into society once they are released from the institution.
On a quiet morning, some inmates were reviewing verses from the Quran, while others huddled together to watch a pair of kickboxers sparring. As the rain set in, they talked about the sun that had to come through, sooner or later.
For Denny, he said the sun will come when he too can go out and find a job.
“My main focus right now is to be a better person than before,” he said, adding that until that day he will focus on religious activities and making perfect cappuccinos in the courtyards. of barista.
Learn more about how UNODC helps reform prisons around the world here.