The blog is produced within the framework of the EU-funded project „Monitoring Government’s Commitments and Promoting the Reforms in the Penal Sector through the Engagement of CSOs“ implemented by Penal Reform International together with the partner organizations: Rehabilitation Initiative of Vulnerable Groups and Human Rights Center.
Georgia has a young democracy, and the country’s supreme law, the constitution, in the preamble states the priority of establishing the democratic social order, economic freedom, and a legal and social state, which guarantees the universally recognized human rights and freedoms. Therefore, it is the priority of the state to develop and improve the institutions designed to protect basic human rights and freedoms, especially in the implementation of criminal justice policy by the state. The liberal criminal justice policy carried out in the country raised the discussion on the purposes of punishment, in particular, the rehabilitation and resocialization of convicted individuals, and due to the topicality of the issue, the present essay will focus on the meaning and aims of rehabilitation and resocialization of the convicted persons and measures that are necessary for the efficiency of this process. The regulation of this issue will be discussed through the applicable national legislation and international standards. At the same time, attention will be paid to foreign practices in this area and conclusions will be drawn in the light of the solutions to the problems raised.
The Notion and Goals of Resocialization and Rehabilitation under Georgian Legislation
The principle of the social state set forth in Article 39 of the Constitution of Georgia with regard to the purposes of punishment implies that the purpose of punishment must ultimately result in the resocialization of the offender. The resocialization and rehabilitation of former prisoners represents one of the priority areas of the Ministry of Justice, which is carried out by the Center for Crime Prevention. The program aims at decreasing the risk of re-offending through psychosocial rehabilitation of former prisoners released from penitentiary establishments, in particular, offering and implementation of activities and services, the absence of which may also increase the risk of reoffending, while their provision facilitates overcoming the difficulties connected to rehabilitation and resocialization of individuals.
In the definition of resocialization, it is important to distinguish the word “re” and the word of the Latin origin “socialization”, which means: turning the person as part of the society, the process of acquisition of certain knowledge, system of norms and values by certain individuals, which enables him or her to become a full member of society. It includes a targeted impact on the person (upbringing), as well as natural, spontaneous processes, which influence the formation of personality. Resocialization means reintegration of convicted individuals into the social life – society. Consequently, the resocialization or correction of the offender implies the transformation of the offender’s personality in the way when it no longer violates criminal law and respects the rules of human co-existence and aims to gradually integrate the person into society through pedagogy, healthcare and psychotherapy. As for rehabilitation, it involves achieving a specific outcome through a specific program.
The convict must be re-socialized in case of both custodial and non-custodial sentences. And the process of resocialization should take place both during and after serving the sentence. Accordingly, the process of serving the sentence in the penitentiary system is of great importance for the re-socialization of convicts, and the work of the prison authorities should be focused on assisting the convict in adapting to public life after release from the sentence. That is why it is the duty of the state to provide the convict with all the conditions necessary for his or her return to society without adverse consequences, as a responsible citizen who will continue his or her life without crime.
Reaching the goal of resocialization is a comprehensive, complex process, achieved through a combination of different actions. Specifically, the exercise of the rights conferred on the accused by the law is one of the contributors to the resocialization. Therefore, all rights provided for the accused by law shall be guaranteed in practice.
The detention law recognizes the rights of the accused, and the state must create conditions that will guarantee the exercise of those rights. When it comes to resocialization, it is necessary to maintain the offender’s contact with the outside world, with the public, which includes the right to visitations, telephone calls and correspondence, meetings with relatives and close ones and to maintain continuous contact. It is important to ensure the rights of convicts, such as housing, food, personal hygiene, clothing, labour, healthcare, and prevent degradation of their personality, so that they feel as fully-fledged human beings.
The process of resocialization is in fact impossible without the general and vocational education provided for the convict, as education is part of the resocialization program and has a strictly upbringing nature. As Andrew Coyle points out, most prisoners have a low level of education, so presumably this low level of education has affected their lives prior to their imprisonment and may have played a major role in committing the crime. Accordingly, education is essential for the offenders to have confidence in their ability to pursue education/profession after release, which will help them find employment and earn a living. Therefore, receiving both general and vocational education is one of the grounds for the convict to be able to integrate into society based on the knowledge acquired during serving the sentence. A prisoner will receive the mentioned experience if along education s/he is also engaged in work or other activities in the respective penitentiary establishment. But it is also necessary to take into account the relevance of the work to be carried out and the physical abilities and health of the person.
Regardless of the importance of education and vocational knowledge, various problems still arise, such as “low involvement of beneficiaries; lack of motivation; lack of information about programs among beneficiaries; short-term nature of courses”, lack of appropriate infrastructure. However, it is also worth noting that even with the right education, there are still employment problems associated with various factors, such as:
“The stigma in the society, previous conviction, the deprivation of the right to drive a vehicle for a long time (in case of a drug-related crime)”, etc. Consequently, tackling these problems will require more resources and finding effective ways, which shall be developed over time.
Also, in the process of resocialization, it is important to ensure the right to participate in religious rituals, sports, cultural, educational and religious activities, the right to be on fresh air daily (to enjoy the right to walk), as all of these are fundamental to achieving the goal of resocialization.
Georgia in the Footsteps of Resocialization and Rehabilitation Programs
It is noteworthy that Georgia recognizes the importance of resocialization and rehabilitation of convicts not only through legislation, but also by planning and implementing specific programs. In accordance with the initiative of the Minister of Justice, a program of rehabilitation and resocialization of former prisoners was launched at the end of 2012 with the aim of assisting the persons released from penitentiary establishments with rehabilitation, their return to full membership in the community and the prevention of reoffending. Up to 1-3 months before their release the Center for Crime Prevention meets prisoners in prison and provides information about the program and services, and specialists work with former prisoners for 2 years. The target group is represented by individuals who have served their sentences or were in pre-trial detention in the penitentiary establishment of Georgia or another state. Social work specialists identify the needs of beneficiaries on the basis of bio-psycho-social assessment and, where appropriate, engage them in rehabilitation programs. It is also important to pay attention to the support network. Before leaving the penitentiary establishment, the prisoner’s family and the environment, in which the prisoner must continue living, shall be assessed, every detail, including the place of residence, be it personal space or social capital, to what extent are the family members or relatives ready to analyse and support the former prisoner, help him or her adjust to the society and self-reestablishment.
It is noteworthy that within the framework of the program and with the financial support of the European Union, a sewing facility was established in penitentiary establishment N5, which employed 25 women prisoners. In addition, a sports centre has been set up where prisoners have the opportunity to take care of their physical and mental health. Both projects also offer prisoners various professional and vocational programs.
Resocialization and Rehabilitation According to International Standards
When discussing the issue of rehabilitation and resocialization of the convicted person it is important to consider not only the regulation of national legislation but also international standards, which state that a person deprived of liberty shall be treated with full respect of his/her rights, and “the purposes of a sentence of imprisonment or similar measures deprivative of a person’s liberty are primarily to protect society against crime and to reduce recidivism, which can be achieved, if the time spent in prison ensures, to the extent possible, the reintegration of these individuals into society after release”. That is why the penitentiary establishments should provide “education, vocational training and work, as well as other forms of appropriate educational, moral, spiritual, social, healthcare and sports activities and assistance”, and the relationship with prisoners shall aim at their social integration efforts through rehabilitation.
Consequently, in the process of resocialization and rehabilitation of the convict, the state should be guided by the above-mentioned international standards, which makes it more effective to achieve its objective.
Resocialization and Rehabilitation Process in Norway
In Norway, great attention is given to resocialization and rehabilitation of the convicts. That is why the state’s sentencing process and conditions have been designed so that the convict does not feel excluded from the society and subsequently returns to it easily.
The penitentiary system of Norway operates based on the so-called “normalization principle”, which implies that restriction of liberty is the punishment, but it does not override other rights, and therefore the offender who has been sentenced to deprivation of liberty has the same rights as other persons living in Norway; also, nobody serves their sentence under stricter conditions than it is necessary for the safety of the community, and life in the penitentiary is similar to the outside world as much as possible. Crucial rehabilitation services in prisons are outsourced to local and municipal service providers, and are therefore brought inside the prison from the community, ensuring both continuity of service delivery, as well as community involvement in the penitentiary system and improvement of prisoners’ image. The government, in turn, guarantees reintegration for those who served their sentences. Therefore, they have guaranteed access to employment and education, housing, income, health and addiction treatment services and debt management consulting.
The fact that during sentencing the main focus is shifted to personal interests and resocialization is confirmed through the prison in the Norwegian city of Halden, considered one of the most furnished and humane penitentiaries in the world. While the prison is designed for convicts of grave and especially grave crimes, who are subject to strict sentences, the prison is well-equipped. That means that it is surrounded by 30 ha. of forest where prisoners are allowed to walk without supervision. The prisoner is required to stay in the cell from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am. The rest of the time the prisoner can devote to work and receive appropriate pay. Prison has all the conditions for convicts to prepare their own food. The convict is also allowed three telephone calls per week and, most importantly, there are very rare cases of conflict among prisoners or between prisoners and the prison administration.
Accordingly, Norway is focused on the resocialization and rehabilitation of the offender in order to ensure his/her return to the society as a full member who can continue to live, based on the experience gained, and no longer commit crime. In this process, as mentioned above, both the state and society are involved comprehensively.
Based on the above, we can conclude that the resocialization and rehabilitation of the convicted person is very important for the prevention of repeated crime and for the convict to return to society as a full member. Successful rehabilitation and resocialization of a person in conflict with the law depends on a combination of many factors: liberal criminal justice policy, effective functioning of state agencies, support of members of the public, etc. As discussed above, Georgia has made significant steps and developed significant programs for resocialization and rehabilitation, however, problems still remain, such as the lack of infrastructure needed for the programs, as well as the low motivation of the beneficiaries and the criminal subculture that needs to be addressed and resolved through improving legislation, increasing access of beneficiaries to programs, and consequently increasing the budgets for the programs, as well as increasing the number and involvement of psychologists and social workers. It is important that during the sentencing period the rights of convicts are not unlawfully restricted and/or deprived and that the conditions for serving a sentence serve his or her personal development. Therefore, foreign practice, such as of Norway, should be taken into account in this regard. It is also important that international standards are taken into account at each stage. Effective comprehensive processes can eventually achieve the goal of resocialization and rehabilitation of the offender and a full return to the community, which will positively impact and dramatically reduce crime rates in the country.
 The Constitution of Georgia, Preamble.
 Lekiashvili A. and Danelia S., The Role and Importance of the Use of Probation and Community Service in the Resocialization Process of the Offender. Tbilisi.
 Shalikashvili M. and Mikanadze G., Juvenile Justice (Guidelines), Tbilisi, Freiburg, Strasbourg, 2016, p. 162.
 Center for Crime Prevention, Rehabilitation and Re-socialization Program for Former Prisoners and the Rules for its Implementation, Article 1.
 Vardzelashvili I., Purposes of Punishment, Tbilisi, 2016, p. 84.
 BVerfG E35, 202, 235.
 Arsoshvili G., Resocialization of the Offender, Tbilisi, 2009, p. 6
 T. Lüth, Resozialisierung von Ausländern im Strafvollzug. Gesetzliche Grundlagen der Resozialisierung im Strafvollzug und deren Verwirklichung in der Praxis unter Berücksichtigung von ausländerrechtlichen Beschränkungen, Diplomarbeit, 2009, S. 8.
 Shalikashvili M., Mikanadze G. and Khasia M., Penitentiary Law, Tbilisi, 2014, p. 79.
 Vardzelashvili I., Purposes of Punishment, Tbilisi, p. 85.
 BverfGE) 45, 187 (229).
 F. Föhn, Bildung im Strafvollzug, Schweiz, Deutschland, Österreich – ein Vergleich, 2010, S. 76.
 Vardzelashvili I., Purposes of Punishment, Tbilisi, 2016, p.101.
 Ibid, p. 104.
 Ghonghadze N. and Baratashvili N., Analysis of Rehabilitation Process of Person in Conflict with the Law, Tbilisi, P. 7-8.
 Educational and Rehabilitation Process of Convicts in the Penitentiary System, Desk Research, Tbilisi, 2018.
 The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), Rule 4.
 Ghonghadze N., Rehabilitation of Former Prisoners and Probationers: Study of International Experience, Tbilisi, 2017, p. 31-34.
 Ibid, p. 34-36.
 Vardzelashvili I., Purposes of Punishment, Tbilisi, 2016, p. 99.
For the Georgian version, please find the following link: https://www.penalreform.org/blog/%e1%83%9e%e1%83%90%e1%83%a2%e1%83%98%e1%83%9b%e1%83%90%e1%83%a0%e1%83%98-%e1%83%a5%e1%83%90%e1%83%9a%e1%83%94%e1%83%91%e1%83%98-%e1%83%a1%e1%83%90%e1%83%a5%e1%83%90%e1%83%a0%e1%83%97%e1%83%95%e1%83%94/