(10/31/2023) | Unisa’s College of Law (CLAW) recently launched its Community Scholarship project, Tshokollo ya Setšhabeng. This Community Scholarship project involves an interdisciplinary group of scholars, practitioners, criminal offenders on parole and probation, former criminal offenders, and community members. This fellowship project also includes researchers focused on criminal justice.
The main focus of this scholarship is to reintegrate former criminal offenders into the community and society so that solid relationships are built between ex-offenders and society and eliminate the stigmatization of criminal offenders through restorative community services. Apart from that, this Community Scholarship also aims to improve employability and develop the skills of former criminals.
Criminal law lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Airlangga University (FH UNAIR), Amira Paripurna, S.H., LL.M., Ph.D., was the main speaker at the launch of the Community Scholarship. She detailed her experience researching and practicing criminal justice law, presenting material and insights on prisons, rehabilitation, and reintegration of former prisoners in Indonesia. She said that Indonesia has quite a tight capacity for its correctional institutions, with approximately 246,389 criminal offenders crowded into correctional institutions, which can only accommodate 123,025 people.
The negative impact of prison overcrowding does not only occur in Indonesia but also South Africa. Overcrowding can hinder prisoner rehabilitation, as it is difficult to provide individual care and counseling in crowded conditions. It also hinders efforts to reduce the rate of re-offending. Limited prison access to rehabilitation programs and overcrowded prisons cause rehabilitation programs to be hampered. Overcrowded prisons can also create new problems, namely public security problems where prisoners will be released early to reduce prison population pressure, thus potentially causing public concern if the released prisoners need more time to be ready to reintegrate into society.
With the Tshokollo ya Setšhabeng Community Scholarship, the community, universities, and researchers can work together to make efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate former criminals back into society so it can reduce stigma towards former convicts.