By ANDREA MANGET, THE GLOBE AND MAIL
This afternoon, delegates in the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee unanimously passed the motion to discuss female imprisonment and the process of reintegration into society. Unlike many other deliberations at HNMUN thus far, the topic consisted of more collaborating than debating. Delegates did not argue whether or not reintegration was an issue. Rather, the conversation focused on what measures need to be taken in order for the reintegration process to prove successful.
No matter how long one’s period of incarceration lasts, the process of re-entering society is inevitably plagued with a number of obstacles. Those hinderances become even greater if the convicted person identifies as female. Anyone with a history of crime is faced with limitations and sometimes even restrictions in accessing employment opportunities, public benefits, adequate housing and legal rights such as child custody.
Finland’s delegation team voiced additional concern over the consequences of prisoners and how the crimes committed by victimized prisoners should not be weighed equally to those committed deliberately. For example, prisoners who committed crimes due to the nature of their upbringing, prisoners who were victims of abuse or prisoners who were subjected to violence. Should they be subjected to the same level of punishment? Canada agreed with this notion, bringing in an interesting statistic that claimed almost half of prisoners who are women, had been victimized in some way before offending. Several years ago, we also reported on the issue and pointed to an increase in mentally-ill female inmates.
Slovakia argued that “education is the key to reintegration and to a better life.” Investing in prison education leads to economic and social benefit, and in turn acts as a positive investment for society as a whole.
Although each delegation suggested a different method of reintegration, all suggestions fell into the same pool. The sense of working together continued outside of the conference room as well while delegates were given time to construct working papers that would outline what they saw as the best solutions.