“The ultimate goal of serving a prison sentence must be the return of a convicted person to normal social life because, upon release, they face a series of problems of a material, social and psychological nature, since the social mechanisms of reintegration are insufficient, and prejudices and obstacles are numerous”, said Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, at the social dialogue on the topic “Rehabilitation, resocialization and reintegration of ex-convicts – the path to a useful member of society”.
Although there is no precise information, expert circles say that the percentage of returns in Serbian prisons is between 65 and 70 percent. Such a high recidivism rate can be attributed to the lack of programs that help people released from prison reintegrate into normal social life.
“Ex-convicts, after leaving prison, generally do not have personal documents because they have expired in the meantime, and they have no money to get new ones, their families are torn apart, and they cannot find a job due to discrimination”. That is why the Commissioner recommends in their annual reports that measures be taken to improve the position of convicted persons and their full social inclusion, without stigmatization, especially in the employment process as a special problem, since employers often ask for a certificate of no conviction even though this is not permitted by law”, Janković said.
The Commissioner points out that the mentioned challenges cannot be solved by individuals without systemic support. “In order for the chance to materialize, we must have equal opportunities. We must not forget that ex-convicts are free people and enjoy equal rights. In this regard, I would like to emphasize that discrimination based on conviction is prohibited by law, and therefore I want to encourage anyone who believes that they have suffered some form of discrimination to contact the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality”, the Commissioner concluded.
The social dialogue “Rehabilitation, resocialization, and reintegration of ex-convicts – the path to a useful member of society” was organized by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue in cooperation with the City Administration of Kragujevac.