Training Modules

Rationale:

All the rules contained in the Bangkok Rules are essential elements of a prison management policy which takes into account the gender specific needs of women prisoners. Understanding the rationale for the rules and ensuring that prison policies and practices are developed with reference to them will enable the establishment of a gender sensitive prison management approach which assists with the social reintegration of women prisoners in a positive prison environment, while also ensuring safety and order in prisons.

Objectives:

  • To review the principles of a gender sensitive prison management approach;
  • To consider the types of discrimination women prisons experience;
  • To identify measures that can be taken to eliminate discrimination against women in prison management policies and practices.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Overview of a gender sensitive management approach
  • The typical background of women prisoners and the impact of imprisonment on women
  • The types of discrimination women prisoners experience
  • Eliminating discrimination against women prisoners in prison management policies and practices

Rationale:

In prison systems worldwide, women prisoners are very often placed in prisons far away from their homes, due to the small number of women prisoners and the correspondingly small number of women’s prisons. The allocation of women represents one of the areas which results in the indirect discrimination of women prisoners. The Bangkok Rules also recognise women prisoners’ particular vulnerability when they are first admitted to prison. Assessment and classification lies at the heart of good prison management, enabling prisoners to spend their time in prison occupied in a constructive manner and to receive counselling, treatment and participate in specific programmes. In the absence of a comprehensive, gender-sensitive assessment and classification system the aim of eventual social reintegration would be hard to achieve.

Objectives:

  • To consider the importance of women prisoners’ allocation close to their homes in the success of their social reintegration;
  • To review the admission procedures for women prisoners, taking into account women’s particular vulnerability at this time;
  • To review the registration of women prisoners, including those who are admitted to prison with their children and those who have children outside prison;  
  • To understand the importance of undertaking a comprehensive, gender-sensitive assessment and classification of women prisoners on their admission to prison to ensure that they are placed in the right security level and that a suitable sentence plan is developed to match each woman’s needs.

Issues covered in this module:

  • The allocation of women prisoners
  • Admission and registration
  • Assessment and classification

Rationale:

In many countries women face discrimination and barriers in accessing adequate health-care services in the community, due to their gender. Therefore female prisoners often have greater primary health-care needs in comparison to men. The health status of prisoners is generally much poorer than that of the general population, and women’s health needs can be seriously neglected in a male-dominated prison system. States are responsible for the health care of all prisoners, including women prisoners. All prisoners need to have access to the same health care standards and services that are available in the community.

Objectives:

  • To discuss the requirement for a whole prison approach to healthcare in prisons, with a shared responsibility to protect and promote women prisoners’  mental and physical health;
  • To review the essential principles and components of the health screening of women prisoners on admission;
  • To review the components of gender specific healthcare services in prisons ;
  • To consider the need for medical confidentiality and how this can be achieved in prisons;
  • To review the special hygiene requirements of women and what prison authorities must do to provide for these needs.

Issues covered in this module:

  • A whole prison approach to healthcare
  • Health screening on admission
  • Gender specific healthcare
  • Medical confidentiality
  • Hygiene

Rationale:

Women who are admitted to prison are more likely to have mental healthcare needs than men, and such needs can intensify in the prison setting. Research in some countries indicates that women may be at higher risk of harming themselves or attempting suicide in comparison to men in prison, due to the higher level of mental illness and substance addiction among women prisoners and the harmful impact of isolation from the community on the mental well-being of women. As a significant proportion of women prisoners have a background of drug use, sexual abuse, sex work and unsafe sexual practices, a large proportion of women prisoners who are admitted to prison are infected with STIs, including HIV, and hepatitis when they enter prison.

Objectives:

  • To discuss strategies to meet women prisoners’ special mental healthcare needs, including the needs of those who are at risk of self-harm and suicide;  
  • To review the benefits of substance dependence treatment for women prisoners and the key principles of gender sensitive strategies to treat substance  dependence; 
  • To consider the importance of developing strategies and services for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in women’s prisons.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Mental health and care, including suicide and self-harm prevention
  • Substance dependence treatment
  • HIV prevention, treatment, care and support

Rationale:

One of the most important component of strategies that aim to promote the social reintegration of women prisoners is to ensure that they are safe and feel safe at all times. If women’s safety is not protected and they are fearful of being subjected to violence, all other efforts to enable their rehabilitation are likely to fail. Therefore, it is paramount that prison authorities develop policies and put into practice measures that provide for the maximum protection of women prisoners, in line with provisions of the Mandela Rules and the Bangkok Rules.

Objectives:

  • To consider the types of abuse women in prison may suffer;
  • To review policies to prevent the abuse of women prisoners;
  • To review the role of independent complaints mechanisms in safeguarding the safety and human rights of women prisoners.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Separation of categories and supplementary measures
  • Supervision of women and prohibition of sexual harassment and abuse
  • Independent complaints mechanisms

Rationale:

The large majority of women in prison worldwide do not pose a high security risk. Discipline and order can be maintained with an empathetic attitude, understanding and mediation, rather than punishment, whenever possible, and flexibility in approach. It will not only be successful in maintaining order and discipline more successfully in women’s prisons, but it will also engender a positive atmosphere that protects and promotes mental wellbeing and reduces tension among both staff and prisoners.  In fact, it is now generally acknowledged that safety and security in all prisons, including male and female, can best be maintained by creating a positive climate which encourages the cooperation of prisoners.

Objectives:

  • To consider the appropriate security levels in prisons where women are held;
  • To review the use of security measures, such as searching procedures and instruments of restraint, in the case of women prisoners;
  • To discuss policies and rules relating to the maintenance of discipline and order within a gender sensitive prison management framework.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Security level in women’s prisons
  • Discipline and order
  • Prisoner searches
  • Instruments of restraint
  • Punishments

Rationale:

Women have a very strong emotional need for contact with their families, especially where children are involved.  However, they are often discriminated against in their ability to maintain links with their families since they are frequently allocated far away from their homes due to the restricted number of women’s prisons in most countries. Particularly in low-income countries and in restrictive prison environments, where activities and programmes provided in prisons may be lacking, contact with family, friends and/or organisations of civil society may be the main means of reducing the risk of alienation, anxiety and hopelessness caused by isolation from society. By allowing as much contact as possible with families and others prison authorities will reduce the risk of mental ill-health amongst women prisoners and improve the prison atmosphere.

Objectives:

  • To explore what is meant by contact with the outside world;
  • To understand the particular importance to women prisoners of contact with family members;
  • To explore how women often receive unequal treatment when it comes to prison visits;
  • To consider the importance of all women prisoners’ contact with legal counsel and prison authorities’ responsibility to assist them access legal assistance, including legal aid;
  • To reflect on the importance of contact with representatives /organisations of civil society to normalise prison life and reduce the isolation experienced by women prisoners;
  • To understand the importance of access to newspapers, television and radio in ensuring that women prisoners are not isolated from the outside community and are able to keep up-to-date with current affairs.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Means of contact with the outside world
    • Letters
    • Telephones
    • Visits
  • Contact with lawyers
  • Contact with organisations of civil society
  • Access to newspapers, television and radio

Rationale:

The concept of prisoner rehabilitation comprises many elements, including the conditions of detention, humane treatment, access to healthcare and contact with families, among other aspects of prisoners’ life in prison.  All prisoners, including women prisoners, must be provided with a balanced and comprehensive programme of activities. The activities and programmes provided must resemble as far as possible life outside prison, with a variety that takes into account the special rehabilitation needs of each individual woman. They should be balanced to provide meaningful occupation, with sufficient emphasis on each aspect of women prisoners’ need for personal development.

Objectives:

  • Consider the role of individualisation in the rehabilitation of women prisoners;
  • Review the benefits of different types of programmes and activities that should be offered to women prisoners, including education, work and vocational training;
  • Discuss the role of sports and recreation in protecting the mental and physical health of women prisoners;
  • Understand the importance of gender-specific, psycho-social programmes in the rehabilitation of women prisoners, taking into account their typical backgrounds and mental healthcare needs.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Individualisation and cooperation with community organisations
  • A balanced and flexible programme of activities
  • Education, work, vocational training, sports and recreation
  • Gender specific / psycho-social programmes

Rationale:

A very large majority of women in prison are mothers.   Many have a number of children outside prison, others are admitted to prison with their small children or are pregnant when they are admitted and give birth while in prison.   All of these categories of women and their children have distinct and special needs.  Prison authorities need to make every effort to provide for these needs, in order to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of both the mothers and the children.

Objectives:

  • To explore the needs of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and mothers with children in prison and what prison authorities should do to respond to their needs;
  • To review the key points relating to the treatment of children living with their mothers in prison;
  • To consider the key principles that should underlie the separation of children from their mothers in prison, based on the best interests of the children concerned.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and mothers with children in prison
  • Children staying with their mother in prison
  • Treatment of children living with their mothers in prison

Rationale:

While all women in prison have gender specific needs that are often not met in prison systems worldwide and while they are all vulnerable due to their gender, some groups of women prisoners are particularly vulnerable and have additional needs due to their legal status, age, nationality or minority status. The Bangkok Rules require that prison authorities develop specific policies to ensure that all women in prison enjoy the same rights.  This means that special measures need to be put in place to counterbalance the disadvantages faced by some groups of women, and to ensure that those who are particularly vulnerable are protected, while their additional needs are met.

Objectives:

  • To understand the special status and needs of women pre-detainees and measures that should be taken to ensure that they are safe and that they are treated in line with their unconvicted status;
  • To  consider the special vulnerability of girls in prison and their special gender and age specific needs, and review measures that can be taken to respond to such needs;
  • To discuss the additional challenges faced by foreign women prisoners and what prison authorities can do to ensure that policies and practices minimise the harmful impact of the language barriers and isolation they experience;
  • To consider the gender and culture specific needs of women who are members of minority groups or indigenous peoples and ways in which to ensure that they enjoy the same rights as other women prisoners.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Pre-trial detainees 
  • Girls
  • Foreign nationals
  • Minorities and indigenous peoples

Rationale:

One of the most neglected aspects of the social reintegration of all prisoners, including women prisoners, is their preparation for release. All prisoners face immense challenges in adapting to life after prison. Women prisoners face additional challenges due to their gender.  They are often abandoned by their spouses or families, which means they will have lost crucial family support following release. They encounter particular stigma because of their imprisonment in many communities, which exacerbates difficulties faced in finding employment or accommodation.  The Bangkok Rules 43 to 47 cover the social relations and aftercare of women prisoners, emphasizing the importance of enabling women prisoners to maintain social relations.

Objectives:

  • To consider the key importance of policies and programmes focusing on women prisoners’ preparation for release, in their successful social reintegration;
  • To understand the fundamental role of maintaining family links in women prisoners successful social reintegration;
  • To review the essential place of community services, probation services and NGOs in assisting with women prisoners’ transition to life at liberty and the need to coordinate with such services and agencies during women’s preparation for release to ensure a continuum of care following release.  

Issues covered in this module:

  • Measures and programmes to prepare women prisoners for release
  • Cooperation with community agencies and strengthening links with families

Rationale:

Prison managers and staff play the most important role in ensuring that prisons are managed in a just and humane manner, conducive to prisoners’ social reintegration.    Well trained, professional staff who can maintain a secure and safe prison, who interact with women prisoners in a positive manner and assists them, as far as possible, in their rehabilitation are key to the implementation of the Bangkok Rules and the successful social reintegration of women prisoners.

Objectives:

  • To highlight the key role staff play in managing prisons in a gender sensitive manner and their contribution to the social reintegration of women prisoners;
  • To consider how women prison staff may be discriminated against, how they can achieve equality with male prison staff and why this improves staff morale and performance;
  • To review the key role recruitment, selection and training of prison staff plays in the proper management of women’s prisons and the social reintegration of women prisoners;
  • To understand the importance of staff training on gender specific issues, women’s human rights, basic healthcare,   child healthcare and development, and the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS in the treatment of women prisoners.

Issues covered in this module:

  • Recruitment and selection
  • Capacity building (including non-discrimination against women staff)
  • Protecting women staff from abuse and sexual harassment
  • Working conditions and remuneration