NATION | NEWS

Giving Offenders A Second Chance In Life Does Not Mean We Condone The Crimes They Committed

All right thinking people condemn rape. Convicted offenders are sent to jail as punishment. After serving their prison term, they are released back to the community, many of them living under a veil of stereotypes that do not help in their rehabilitation.
05 Apr 2022 13:00
Giving Offenders A Second Chance In Life Does Not Mean We Condone The Crimes They Committed
Fiji Corrections Service personnel and Yellow Ribbon supporters during the annual Yellow Ribbon Project walk at Albert Park on October 31, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

All right thinking people condemn rape.

Convicted offenders are sent to jail as punishment.

After serving their prison term, they are released back to the community, many of them living under a veil of stereotypes that do not help in their rehabilitation.

 

They face a stigma that makes it difficult to integrate in their respective communities.

They are shunned and isolated, creating an impression that they have lost their rights to live.

When they get released their rights are restored.

 

Yes it is true that everyone hates the crime they committed.

They have done their time in prison and paid the price.

They are given the opportunity to live a normal life on their release.

 

But the question is: Is it right to condemn them for life?

Of course not.

Yesterday the controversy about former Sevens rugby star Eminoni Nasilasila was discussed in Parliament.

Amenoni Nasilasila outside the High Court in Suva. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Eminoni Nasilasila outside the High Court in Suva. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The contention was over his release to play rugby while he was still serving his term for rape and whether the Commissioner of Corrections Commander Francis Kean exceeded his power to release him.

Those who criticised the move argued that it gave the wrong message that we did not take rape seriously as a despicable and heinous crime against women.

Secondly, Nasilasila was given preferential treatment because of his reputation as a rugby star.

 

Would the critics be raising their voices if he was just a player who had not burst into international fame?

In fact, there have been instances before where inmates have been allowed to play sports as part of the Yellow Ribbon project.

Since its inception Yellow Ribbon has helped many inmates in their rehabilitation before they are released into their communities.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on April 4, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on April 4, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

As was explained by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament yesterday Yellow Ribbon had helped significantly in reducing the rate of recidivism in Fiji from 50 per cent to 1.06 per cent.

That’s a remarkable drop and demonstrates the effectiveness of the project.

The rehabilitation starts in jail through a number of programmes that develop the inmates’ talents and potential.

 

It instills confidence and builds character so when they return home they are ready to focus as productive citizens not as criminal elements.

Sports activities are an effective vehicle.

In prison, inmates learn different trades and study for qualifications that will get them jobs when they leave with newly acquired skill sets.

 

And many have secured jobs through a programme that involves employers.

Inmates have been involved in cane cutting and arts where their paintings have been sold in the open market.

The Yellow Ribbon has also encouraged the temporary release of inmates to their communities under the supervision of the turaga ni koro (village headmen), chiefs and community leaders.

 

It has helped to remove the stigma that used to exist and creates the right atmosphere for the inmates to resume normal life after their release.

Commander Kean is within his powers to expand the activities under the project.

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



Got A News Tip


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


WEET BIX
For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition
Subscribe-to-Newspaper