During the seminar
During the seminar

On 17 and 18 September 2019, the IRZ, together with the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) organised their fourth seminar on “Social and psychological Support for Prisoners” in Tétouan, Morocco.

Building on the previous seminars, the main focus of this event was on institutional and practical support measures for prison staff. Specific case examples were used to explain how particularly sensitive prisoners, especially those who have been radicalised, can be motivated to seek social and psychological support.

The experts representing the IRZ at the seminar were psychologist Dr. Angelika Burghardt-Kühne and Group Leader Vera Schiepe, both of whom work at the Heidering penal institution in Berlin.

This seminar, which makes up part of the project supported by the German Federal Foreign Office on “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management”, further intensifies the successful cooperation between Morocco and Germany in this area. As part of the project, a handbook on social and psychological care for prisoners will be produced.

The Head of Personnel at the DGAPR, Redouane Kouta, emphasised at the start of the seminar how much both sides benefit from the Moroccan-German discussions on prison management. As a result of the joint project implementation, Morocco has also intensified its cooperation with other countries in Africa.

The current situation regarding social and psychological care in Moroccan prisons

The admissions procedure in Moroccan prisons starts with an extensive medical and psychological examination, which is used to make an assessment. Any pre-existing medical conditions are taken into account here. During this initial examination, staff at the prison put together all the available information in detailed reports for social services and prison management.

However, a good level of care for prisoners is vital to ensure their successful reintegration. Good working conditions for prison staff therefore play a particularly important role here. Since dealing with prisoners can be a real burden for the staff, support systems should be established. These cover various measures, from improving structural factors to psychological care. A setting involving several persons and advice on cases from colleagues have both proved to be helpful problem-solving measures in the care of prisoners.

To protect its officers from prisoners’ attempts to manipulate them, for example, the DGAPR runs social and psychological programmes, with the help of external psychologists in some cases. The strategy developed by the DGAPR here also covers the care of prisoners and has the objective of developing their skills.

Motivation challenge

Prisoners’ motivation for taking part in voluntary treatments presents a particular challenge for Moroccan prisons, as well as those in other countries, since the prisoners cannot be forced to participate. The treatment of prisoners with mental health problems is particularly difficult. Special motivation training sessions and motivation therapies aim at helping prisoners to participate in treatment measures, thus establishing a set structure to their day and achieve their own objectives for their period of detention. At the same time, these measures support the successful reintegration of prisoners. In order to reduce the relatively high relapse rate of approx. 57 percent, Morocco also wants to focus more on alternative forms of punishment.