A programme to rehabilitate prisoners celebrated its sweet achievements when 199 prisoners graduated on Thursday.
The Assistant Commissioner of Prison, Ulugia Niuia Aumua, said the programme is part of their efforts to make Samoa a safer place.
“Our role is to guard those who have been brought here to our prison, and secure the safety of our community,” he said.
“While they are in prison, the prisoners should be taught about how to change their mindsets and perspectives of life and renew themselves so that they won’t commit the same things they did. The main purpose is to try and change them for the better.
“That’s why we have this programme.”
The programme started in February with 233 participants.
“The five different programmes aim at addressing the different offenses committed by the prisoners we have here at Tafa’igata.
“For example, we now have a behavioural programme, addressing anger management, drugs and alcohol, sex offenses and others.
“So the ones who graduated today are the ones who completed this programme from the very beginning up until now.
“We had 233 but only 199 graduated. And this is because some of them have already completed their sentence here and they are now on parole and some of them failed to complete as well.”
On Thursday, the idea according to Ulugia was to celebrate the small steps taken to change prisoners for the better.
“This was something we’ve always wanted to do, and we didn’t think it will get to this point so early, but we are grateful that we made it this far.”
Ulugia assured they are trying their best to help change the mindsets of the prisoners.
“We know that a lot has happened in the past, but we are now trying to work towards changing the lives of the prisoner we have here at Tafa’igata and show them a new way or a new chapter for them.
“We also have been working on improving the lives of the escaped prisoners to try and change their mindsets.”
Ulugia said the prison has been very peaceful and they have hardly had any problems since the programme started.
“As you know, in any country, we always have this problem of prisoners escaping from prison.
“But that’s why we are grateful for these programmes, because it helps them change and also our programmes distracts them from thinking about escaping as well.
“They are no longer trapped in the cells all the time but instead, they are out there learning about the different ways they can do with the strength and ability that they have.”
He also explained the schedule and how many hours of the day they spend for the programme.
“The programme run for four days a week and run for three to four hours a day for these programmes.
“This is because we also have other programmes from the different congregations in Samoa and also other programmes we have here at Tafa’igata.
“The teachers who are responsible for teaching the prisoners are the people from our Ministry under Development Services of Samoa Prisons which is under the leadership of Levaopolo Rosa Siaosi.
“This is the first time we’ve had a structured rehabilitation programme. This is the first time we’ve had programmes addressing anger management, sex related, drugs and alcohol offenses. Therefore, we want to thank everyone who contributed to the success of this programme.”