"The Role of Psychology in a Rehabilitation Programme by Civil Society Organizations” A Public Lecture held at Bina Nusantara University Alam Sutera

Dissemination of Prison Reform Project: “Encouraging Public-Private Partnership through Innovative Rehabilitation Programmes for Prisoners at the Correctional Institution for Women Class II A Tangerang”


An ideal prison must have an adequate rehabilitation programme for the prisoners it houses. In this regard, the Indonesian government's policy on the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners is, to date, generally in line with related international principles.

Article 2 of Law Number 12 of 1995 on Correctional Institutions, for instance, emphasizes the importance of character-building for prisoners to support them as human beings who will be accepted back in society. These basic values ??are in accordance with the tenth principle in the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, which articulates: "With the participation and help of the community and social institutions, and with due regard to the interests of victims, favourable conditions shall be created for the reintegration of the former prisoner into society under the best possible conditions.”

To participate in advancing the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST), in collaboration with the Department of Psychology, Bina Nusantara University (BINUS), has carried out a counselling programme at the Women’s Prison Class IIA Tangerang, Banten. This programme was made possible thanks to the generous support received from the Tifa Foundation.

Implementation of this programme resulted in much valuable experience being gained and as a commitment to share the lessons learned and knowledge acquired with the wider community, FIHRRST, together with Psychology Department of BINUS University, Tifa Foundation and Women’s Prison Tangerang organized a public lecture at BINUS University Alam Sutera on 29 September 2018. Among the speakers were James Kallman and Tequila Bester (FIHRRST), Rita Eriani and dr Nuning Sukma (Women’s Prison Tangerang), Darmawan Triwibowo (Executive Director of Tifa Foundation), and Dr. Istiani (Psychologist & lecturer of BINUS University).

The Women’s Prison Class IIA Tangerang was established in 1979 and began its operations in 1982. The prison has a design capacity for 250 people, but like most prisons in Indonesia it suffers from overcrowding issues and, in fact, currently houses 398 prisoners. Prison overcrowding is an additional challenge for most prison institutions in Indonesia in complying with the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Female prisoners face many complex problems with physical factors being further exacerbated by psychological concerns. Issues such as accepting their current condition of being incarcerated, which include separation from family and difficulties in adapting to the prison environment, plus experiences of trauma from their past are often factors that see female prisoners tending to have a higher level of psychological problems. This, therefore, shows the importance of providing mental health services for women in prison.

Being aware of these problems, FIHRRST, in collaboration with the Psychology Department of Binus University, has sought to strengthen the psychological condition of female prisoners in Tangerang Women’s Prison. Those prisoners, who had previously suffered traumatic experiences and obstacles in managing stress and emotions, were given the opportunity to participate in counselling to better regulate their emotions and psychological problems. With an eye to the future, meanwhile, additional training was also provided to the prisoners in such areas as competent parenting and effective interpersonal communication skills.

Moreover, FIHRRST realizes the vital importance of sustainability of this programme, for advances made can swiftly be lost. Thus training programmes were not just given to prisoners, but also to selected prison officers who were appointed as mental health cadres. Expectations are that the training provided to these mental health cadres will enable them to continue the programme of strengthening the psychological condition and character of the prisoners in the Tangerang Women’s Prison. This training included improving effective communication, trauma-informed care, and psychological first aid. As part of the BINUS commitment to community service, the psychologists – who are also lecturers in the university’s Department of Psychology – as well as BINUS psychology students, will continue to monitor and strengthen these activities.

"Involving civil society organizations in the prison programme will help to create and maintain healthy relations between the prisoners and the environment outside the prison, reduce the adverse effects of limited facilities in prisons, and contribute to improving the atmosphere within prisons,” said James Kallman, founder of FIHRRST and among the speakers at the public lecture.

"This project is very suitable for improving the mental health of female prisoners, especially as our prison does not have in-house psychologists. Through this programme, at least prisoners can independently regulate their problems, not only personal but also with fellow prisoners. The programme provided to the officers, meanwhile, has also trained them to develop a sense of empathy and care when handling prisoners who have psychological problems, "said dr Nuning Sukma, a medical doctor at Women’s Prison Tangerang.

Meanwhile Executive Director of Tifa Foundation, Darmawan Triwibowo, stated in his keynote address that "Improving the quality of prison system services is an important step that cannot be delayed any longer. The government must play its part, but there are times when it needs assistance from elsewhere. This Tifa understands, plus that the importance of cooperation between the government and non-state actors should constantly be encouraged.”

 

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