Our staff reported a very positive response from the inmates to the program. We started on a lecture based psychoeducation workshop format. Along with theory, body stabilization exercises were taught, involving the voluntary participation of attendees. The format merged into a more participatory one, with groups sitting in circles, allowing for personal interaction.
In assessing the needs of the participants, trauma and depression workshops led us to address issues such as forgiveness and anger management. The staff reported particular group interest in addressing anger, leading to the development of a culturally sensitive anger measurement scale, which we plan to improve in order to measure future effectiveness of the program.
Particular remark is given to significant mental health improvement of the few female participants that attended 3 or more of our sessions. Two specifically who have recently left the prison continue to visit our office and show incredible appreciation for the program, encouraging us to continue the work. Their dedication indicates that higher frequency attendance in our group sessions is likely to provide effective psychological rehabilitation. Based on these case studies, we will aim to provide several group interventions to the same group of people, raising therefore, their probability of rehabilitation.
Challenges and Limitations
We have been challenged with a high level of expectation along with other NGOs and CBOs to help with the physical needs of the inmates, which has been highlighted many times during our operation at the prison. Although we understand that there is a crucial link between psychosocial, rehabilitation skills training, and physical needs of inmates in the process of rehabilitation, as a new privately funded organization, we currently lack the resources to offer such comprehensive program.
Other challenges relate to work space scheduling, unexpected rebellions which understandably impede our visit to the prison, and not being able to provide physical benefits (such as food during workshops for prison staff). As an organization specialized in psychological work, we believe that physical incentives are not beneficial in the process of psychological training and healing, because it distorts one’s reality and expectation. Only when awareness is gained about the need to change or improve, one can be motivated. The desire to become a valuable member in society, or as in prison staff cases, for psychological care, must come from within and not from external, temporary benefits.
Rehabilitation Variables used for Assessment:
Measured in the 1st, 6th, and 12th month of the program:
- Intrusion and avoidance symptoms. – Violence and aggression. – Acceptance of responsibility – Fear of negative evaluation.
- Social avoidance (which can impede reintegration into the community). - Better abilities to choose right from wrong.
Measuring the effectiveness of our work is a commitment we have to assure the delivery of proper intervention.
Every year we plan to submit clinical reports to the Ministry of Justice, including symptom measurement scales and frequency of participation through a culturally sensitive assessment model. Along with the clinical report, we have introduced a draft prison assessment form for direct feedback from inmates of the Monrovia Central Prison. The form, still under modification, inquire from beneficiaries about the S.C. prison program. Individuals may choose to reveal their identify or use their rights of confidentiality.