Community stigma hinders inmate rehabilitation

May 25, 2024 4:20 pm

The Fiji Correction Service is encountering significant challenges in gaining community acceptance.

This, according to FCS hampers the completion of the inmate transformation process and feeds the stigma attached to former inmates.

Director of Rehabilitation Waisale Soqonakalou, emphasizes that securing employment for inmates and educating the community are crucial steps in overcoming the stigma.

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According to the Director of Rehabilitation, FCS has been effective in finding permanent employment for inmates, which has facilitated their reintegration into society.

However, Soqonakalou stresses that the FCS cannot complete the transformation process alone.

“So, it’s a message to the community that the Fiji Correctional Service cannot do the transformation process. So we need the support of the business community, the churches, and the families. We cannot complete the cycle, the transformation process.”

Former inmate Pita Rokolaqe shared his personal experience and said that incarceration can be a period of transformation rather than just punishment.

“For someone to be incarcerated is often viewed as a punishment given during a period of isolation and hardship. This was different for me, as I was able to discover many profound truths that helped create more self-awareness, changing my perception of life after incarceration. I am deeply moved by the lesson taught.”

FCS is hopeful that it will be able to accomplish its objectives of improving the lives of former inmates and removing the stigma attached to incarceration with the ongoing cooperation of many different sectors.