Petition for an Amnesty

The collection of petitions to be sent to the Hon. Prime Minister and Hon. Members of Cabinet for a generous amnesty to all prisoners continued steadily. The petition is being done on the occasion ofMalta’s accession to the European Union.

The number of petitions collected are symbolic, in the sense that it was not logistically possible to conduct the gathering at all localities ofMaltaand Gozo. However from the little effort that was done the number of petitions gathered is MORE THAN 3000 in just three weeks. This, in the circumstances, is considered to be a record.

On April 1 Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl made a formal petition to the Prime Minister to present a motion to the Cabinet in order to grant the petition. Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl even contacted all the Ministers individually in order to ask them to support the motion. It is understood that the indications for the granting of the amnesty are good.

The petitions are being collected on single cards, but also on other sheets. These are being sent to the office of the Prime Minister inVallettaby Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl, but also individually by post.

“Visit a Prisoner” Scheme

Some weeks back Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl issued a call through the local papers to those who would have liked to make private visits to a male or female prisoner at the Corradino Correctional Facility. The initiative was taken since many prisoners, especially those of foreign origin, have no one to visit them. This fact adds, quite significantly, the anguish of incarceration. Acquiring he consciousness that someone cares for him or her, enough to make a visit once a week, a prisoner is encouraged, cares more for his or her own mental and physical state, and moreover shall have someone with whom to share his or her thoughts, joys and sorrows, and also his or her hope for the future.

To this call thirty persons answered. These had been asked to attend an introductory meeting at Dar it-Tama, Cospicua. During this meeting it was explained to them what was expected of them. At present four, including a couple, already began visiting regularly a prisoner assigned to them. Others are still going through the process of being issued a permit by the police. The procedure demands that the police inspector responsible for the case of a prisoner on remand issues a document stating that he has no objection for the visit to take place.

This procedure frequently creates many difficulties since it is difficult to get in contact with the inspector who has to issue the permit.

Since the demand on the part of prisoners is greater than the persons offering some of their time to visit them another call is planned for the near future. Those interested in this scheme may phone on 9982 7998 or 9946 3324.

Prisons that Serve Society

The prisons must serve society. It is senseless that people continue to be sent to the prisons only to leave them worse than when they entered them. This squanders public funds to the detriment of the public’s same interests. The prisons must be places of therapy where inmates, especially the young, may heal from the causes of their delinquency and criminality.

For this to be achieved it is necessary that the prisons be places of discipline, free from corruption, and clear from drugs. The prisons’ security and any other function must be at the service of therapy, and not the other way round. The concept of the inmates’ education must be widened so as to include formal and practical instruction, such as vocational training. It must also include informal instruction, which is the education that is transmitted in an indirect way through an environment that is humanly respectful and ethically clean. Without making the inmates unduly nervous or preoccupied, the prisons’ environment must positively predispose them to therapy. It is in such manner that inmates can be prepared to re-establish themselves successfully in society.

This means that much attention must be given to the training of prison officials, both those who are in command — so that all their undertakings shall have a therapeutic aim — and also those who come in direct contact with inmates. The Prison Board of Visitors must be composed of a manageable number of people, and given some effective power.
The families of prisoners, as indirect victims of crime, must be given the greatest respect, and treated with the utmost sensitivity. Voluntary groups must be assisted as much as possible so that they may contribute to the best of their abilities according to their specific nature.

As people to whom, first and foremost, the service of justice has to be oriented, victims of crime must be given the most privileged place in the new government’s agenda. The government’s program should provide not only for direct victims of crime but also for those who may be potentially in some special danger of becoming victims. This program may not necessarily include a system of pecuniary recompense, but rather a system that guarantees the victims’ right to information. This system may function in cooperation with the police force, the Courts of Justice, and those entities especially close to the citizen, such as the Local Councils.