The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), on Tuesday launched a reading project for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) as part of measures to help them lead productive lives while in detention.
The project dubbed “Read Your Way Out: Advancing Prison Reform through Libraries for Lifelong Learning in Places of Detention” program was launched at the Novotel Manila Araneta City in Quezon City.
In a statement, the bureau said the project will support the creation of new jail libraries and the provision of books and equipment, with the overall aim to provide learning opportunities for personal development and well-being of PDLs
“It aims to incorporate reading activities as one of the options for PDL to earn Time Allowance for Study, Teaching, and Mentoring (TASTM). Time allowances reduce time in sentences and facilitate decongestion, through early release coupled with rehabilitation grounded in improved education and vocational skills,” it added.
Jail libraries shall be composed of 20 percent legal resources, 30 percent vocational resources, 40 percent fiction and nonfiction, and 10 percent children’s books for family visitors.
To implement the project, a Technical Working Group (TWG) was constituted composed of officials from the BJMP and the UNODC. The National Library of the Philippines (NLP) was also included as part of the TWG for the purpose of providing technical expertise in terms of library management.
The TWG has identified 13 jail recipients from all over the Philippines as they will be provided with books and the necessary basic equipment to build their respective libraries and to complement if one is already established. These libraries are scheduled to be launched in March 2023.
The creation of libraries in jails and prisons is inspired by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which ensures the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
The same is reiterated by the UN’s Nelson Mandela Rules where Rule 64 specifically states that every prison shall have a library for the use of all categories of prisoners, adequately stocked with both recreational and instructional books, and prisoners shall be encouraged to make full use of it.
Key government officials and stakeholders participated in the launch through a knowledge-sharing sessions by experts in the field of establishing jail libraries as well as by advocates for lifelong learning in jails.
Among the resource speakers are Lisa Krolak, Chief Librarian, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Lifelong Learning; Marie Macauley, Programme Specialist, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning; Jane Garner, lecturer at the Charles Sturt University, Wagga, Australia; Beatrice Montariol, Project Development Consultant, Sipar Org, Cambodia; Prof. Elenice Onofre, Department of Pedagogical Theories and Practices and the Graduate Program in Education of the Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil; Preeya Jumnongbut Intiyot, Penologist, at the Department of Corrections, Ministry of Justice, Thailand and Padma Bandaranayake, Director, National Library of Sri Lanka.
Also in the event were the head of UNODC Philippines Office Olivier Lermet along with other representatives from UNODC Regional Offices from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Manila.
DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Serafin Barretto Jr. also graced the occasion, along with other delegates from the DILG and BJMP. (PNA)