What: The Prison Project aims to help detainees reintegrate back into their communities through participation in a modified version of the Community Empowerment Program (CEP). Participation builds their knowledge of human rights and equips them with practical skills to start income-generating activities. We also facilitate family mediations to help integrate former detainees back into their communities upon release.

Why: Senegal’s state prisons often lack water, toilets, adequate space for living and recreation, and medical services. They also usually lack organized rehabilitation activities for prisoners, and without these activities, the likelihood that detainees will become repeat offenders increases.

An international agreement addressing prison conditions in Africa allows prisons to form partnerships with organizations and NGOs like Tostan to provide rehabilitation services. These services encourage successful reintegration of prisoners into society upon their release.

How: As part of the modified version of the CEP we implement in prisons, facilitators lead class discussions on topics including human rights education, problem solving, hygiene, health, and literacy, as well as provide family mediation and skill trainings in project management and income-generating activities.

Upon release, participants also have access to start-up funds for the establishment of small businesses. The revenue generated from the skills trainings and economic activities of the prisoners who are still imprisoned make these funds possible.

Who: The Prison Project is currently being implemented in five men’s and women’s prisons in Dakar, Thiès, and Rufisque, Senegal. The participants are predominately women.

Impact & Sustainability: The family mediation and skills trainings provided by the Prison Project are essential to ensuring successful reintegration. Since the Prison Project began in 2003, the team has completed thousands of mediations, contributing to thousands of reintegration success stories throughout Senegal. Former detainees who participated in the Prison Project and successfully reintegrated into their families and society have returned to lead skills trainings and be an example of hope and dignity to the current participants.