Impact of project:
Impact evaluation in progress
This project was selected as the winner of the Experiences From the Field's "Most Promising Approach" category by JKP partners from IDRC, LACEA, McKinsey, AMERU, and Fedesarrollo. This project of skills development and professional training is part of the APAC program (Associações de Proteção e Assistência aos Condenados), which main objective is to humanize jails without neglecting the punitive aspect of the sanction. It has been developed since 1972 by FBAC (Fraternidade brasileira de assistência aos condenados) that has been managing the program in Brazil and has been promoting it abroad. The AVSI foundation is one of the partners of the institution. The objective of this proposal is to diminish the rate of recidivism of the prisoners and to prepare their reintegration into society. Professional training is an essential aspect of the social reintegration process because unemployment will difficult this process. Thus, the APAC program looks for offering professional trainings and human development support to enable the prisoners to find a job by presenting the adequate skills and the required behavior at the job interview. This will also avoid idleness during the detention. The prisoners go through different regimes of detention than in a public jail but with a different methodology. In the closed regime, the prisoners go through a human and familial reconstruction process. During the semi-opened regime, they receive a professional training and continue their human development course. Eventually, during the opened regime, the prisoner can start working outside in the day and go back to jail at night. AVSI helped to develop bakery and civil construction courses. Beyond this, the program proposes a training course for Minas Gerais jails’ directors and employees.
Why this project is a Good Practice example:
This project is an example of good practice because it creates benefits at different levels: for the ex-prisoners, for companies and for society, by improving the society’s safety and the labor market.
This initiative permits to qualify for the labor market a part of the population that usually experience difficulties to find a job, either because they lack of education and of the required skills for the jobs or because the employers do not trust them or because of their criminal-record that disqualify them for some public functions. This projects deals with vulnerable people that usually do possess neither a strong educational background, nor a professional training nor a long professional experience.
This initiative benefits to the labor market because it improves the quality of the workforce, implying a long-term improvement of the economic production, especially through a higher scale development of this project.
Beyond this, the government of Minas Gerais recently voted the 18.041 bill that offers economic subsidies to companies that hire ex-prisoners. However this law is inefficient if the prisoners do not have the required skills and qualification. Indeed, this bill guarantees a contract but without training do not guarantee e long-term stay in the company.
For the well-being of the society, it is important to note that the more ex-prisoners have opportunities to work and to support their families, the lower they will be given to committing new crimes and this diminishes the violence in society.
Since 1972, it has been possible to observe APAC methodology positive results. Currently, there are 147 judicially existing APAC and among them 34 are currently working in Minas Gerais. There are 20 other jails that have been implemented abroad, in Australia, Chile, Russia, Mexico, Ecuador, Pakistan or Paraguay.
As for the official figures, the recidivism rate from the Brazilian public jails is 75 to 80% but is only 10 to 15% in APAC jails . It has to be noticed that those who commit crimes again after having been in an APAC prison commit crimes that are petty crimes and essentially less violent than those they had committed before. With these results, APAC became part of Minas Gerais government’s public policies and is considered by the Prison Fellowship International (FPI), a UN consulting organization on the issue of jails, as one of the best methodology in this perspective.
Moreover, supporting professional training and qualification, that is an essential aspect of the methodology, has an impact on the prisoners but also on many other indicators, which brings benefits to the whole society. The success of one of the aspect of APAC methodology strengthens the whole methodology development and permits to obtain from the other spheres of society (companies, tribunals) a better acknowledgment and recognition of the program and then entails an increasing involvement from public authorities or private sector companies.
First, we have to say that dealing with skill development and professional training without a human development course is not sufficient to help the prisoners to be reintegrated into society. Both actions have been to be led together and the human development process has to come first.
Second, one of the most important lessons of this program is that in order to cope with these issues of the prison system and of the reintegration into society, the three sectors of society have to act commonly: the public sector, the private sector and the tertiary sector (NGOs). Even though it is an issue that should be tackled by public authorities, it is also a responsibility of the society to participate in it and the improvement of the situation of jails can only be achieved through the collaboration of all the social actors.
It is through a process that stimulates and guarantees an efficient and effective recovery (recuperation) and social reintegration that we can have benefits spread to the whole society. On the contrary, jails would remain the school of crime that they often are in most part of cases.