On 17 October 2014, the United National Movement MP, Chiora Taktakishvili, stated during the talk show, Reaction,

that a total of 14,000 convicts were out of prison at that moment and that there were no re-socialisation programmes in place for them.

FactCheck

took interest in Ms Taktakishvili’s statement and verified its accuracy. It should be pointed out that the verification of the statement was prolonged due to the late response of the LEPL Centre for Crime Prevention of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

In her interview with FactCheck,

Ms Taktakishvili stated that the Government of Georgia did not implement large-scale projects aimed at re-socialising prisoners after starting the process of general amnesty. She also said that only one pilot project was created to address this issue and it only included a small number of ex-convicts.

According to the information provided by the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia, a total of 18,645 prisoners were released from prisons in 2013 whilst the number was down to 5,369 from January to September 2014. A total of 8,743 prisoners were released from 12 January 2013[1]

to November 2014 in terms of the general amnesty.

In her interview with FactCheck,

the Executive Director of the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, Lela Tsiskarishvili, talked about the importance of re-socialisation programmes. According to Ms Tsiskarishvili, re-socialisation programmes are aimed at reducing the risks of recurrence of detention for ex-prisoners; however, these programmes do not have 100% results as the re-socialisation process of ex-prisoners is hindered by various factors including the severe social conditions in the country. In addition, Ms Tsiskarishvili also said that the recurrence of crime among ex-prisoners also occurs in Norway and other developed countries with a rich experience of re-socialisation programmes.

The LEPL Centre for Crime Prevention was created in 2012 and subordinated to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. The mission of the Centre is described as “crime prevention in Georgia and for this purpose, implementing projects related to crime prevention, working with at-risk groups and promoting the prevention of recidivism.” The Centre for Crime Prevention works on projects for the rehabilitation and re-socialisation of ex-prisoners as well as on diversion programmes for juveniles and other at-risk groups.

The rehabilitation and re-socialisation programme for ex-prisoners was created in December 2012. The programme focuses upon the physical and psychological rehabilitation of ex-prisoners as well as professional training and employment in various fields.

According to the information provided on the Centre’s website, the programme starts its work with convicts one-to-three months before their release from prison. The prisoners are given information about the programme and the services offered by the Centre for Crime Prevention. Participation in the programme is voluntary. The rehabilitation and re-socialisation programme for ex-prisoners includes the following services: psychological-social counselling, health and improving health problems, acquiring professional skills and facilitating employment, informal education and trainings, working with family members of the ex-prisoner and offering legal assistance.

According to the information of the Centre for Crime Prevention, a total of 402 people were involved in the rehabilitation and re-socialisation programme for ex-prisoners in 2013 whilst the number was down to 345 in 2014. According to the Centre, a total of nine cases of recurrence of crime and detention among programme beneficiaries were recorded in 2013 and 2014.

In his interview with FactCheck,

Beka Gotua, a Social Worker at the Centre for Crime Prevention, talked about the reasons for the low numbers of beneficiaries in the programme. He stated that there are no limitations on the numbers of ex-prisoners who can participate in the programme; however, many refuse to join. The Centre for Crime Prevention has not yet conducted a study in order to identify the specific reasons for refusal. According to the opinion of the representatives of the Centre, apart from the unwillingness to participate, ex-prisoners avoid “dealing with the government” owing to specific stereotypes in society. According to the Press and Public Relations Manager of the Centre for Crime Prevention, Eka Burchuladze, applications for the programme have been increasing following the growing popularity of the Centre.

Conclusion

According to the information of the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia, a total of 24,014 people were released from prisons from 2013 to September 2014. Of these, 8,743 were released in terms of the general amnesty. The LEPL Centre for Crime Prevention has been operating re-socialisation programmes for ex-prisoners since 2012. A total of 747 beneficiaries participated in the programme in the two years of its functioning with the cases of recurrence of crime and detention equal to 18. It should be noted that the number of beneficiaries of the re-socialisation programme is very low as compared to the number of released prisoners. One of the reasons for this is that participation in the programme is voluntary. It should be noted that the Centre for Crime Prevention has not yet conducted a study in order to identify the specific reasons for the refusal to participate in the programme.

FactCheck

realises that the government has no leverage with which to force ex-prisoners to participate in the aforementioned programme. However, at the same time we believe that in terms of such a large-scale amnesty process, the government should have focused more upon re-socialisation programmes and be more prepared to effectively address any problems related to the amnesty. The low number of beneficiaries of the programme suggests that more should be done towards its improvement, including a wider PR campaign in order to provide more information for specific target groups.

FactCheck concludes that Chiora Taktakishvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.


[1]

The Law on General Amnesty was published on 12 January 2013.


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