GIS - 20 August, 2013: The second edition of the ‘Fête de la Moisson’ was launched yesterday at the Richelieu Open Prison (ROP) in the presence of the Senior Chief Executive of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mrs K.O Fong Weng-Poorun, and the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Jean Bruneau. On the same occasion an animal farm was reopened.
The prison garden has been given a new lease of life and detainees are being trained in mass vegetable and fruit production. The vegetable garden at ROP occupies a surface area of nearly 25 acres of land in which green vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, pumpkins, lettuce, onions, garlic, cauliflower and eggplants are cultivated. The ROP animal farm has also been revamped following an outbreak in October 2011 of lumpy skin disease among the cows. As at date, the animal farm comprises 15 cattle, 10 goats, 99 ducks, 1 352 egg layers and 10 rabbits.
In her address, the Chief Guest, Mrs Fong Weng-Poorun, recalled that the purpose of the ‘Fete de la Moisson’ is to showcase that detainees are engaged in purposeful and productive activities during the period of incarceration. She pointed out that the training of detainees in agricultural work and animal husbandry as well as vocational work and industrial activities have proved to be effective in the rehabilitation process and eventual reintegration into society on release. The Government Programme 2012-2015 lays emphasis on stepping up rehabilitation programmes, as well as literacy and numeracy courses to be provided to detainees with the assistance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other voluntary bodies.
In 2010, the Prisons Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mauritius Institute of Training and Development for technical assistance. In 2011, Rs 1,7 million were disbursed under the Corporate Social Responsibility scheme for prisoners rehabilitation projects. The Prisons Department is also collaborating with NGOs to enable detainees who have completed their sentence to find a job from prospective employers.
According to Mrs Fong Weng-Poorun, Government wants to reduce the percentage of relapse which is quite high. She further announced that two detainees have been selected to follow a distance learning programme leading to a degree in Business Management at the Open University.
For his part, Mr Bruneau stated that the ROP, which was established in July 1958, has developed into an industrial prison where vegetable production, animal husbandry and shoemaking activities are carried out. It also houses a metal and a printing workshop. The hard work of detainees taking part of the multi-skilling programme is being rewarded through a new scheme which enables them to save up to half of their earnings to be used upon their release.
Richelieu Open Prison
In a bid to facilitate the resettlement process the Prisons Department is partnering with Rotary Club, Meaders Feed and the National Empowerment Foundation to set up at the Petit Verger prison farm and the ROP a small-scale egg production project for detainees who have received training in egg production. Detainees are offered a battery cage of 50 egg layers and chicken feed for three months.
Situated in Richelieu in the district of Black River, the ROP covers an area of 44 acres of land. It is classified as a minimum security prison where only male detainees are kept. The regime is based on self-discipline and development of a sense of responsibility. Only detainees who can be trusted for open conditions are located there.
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