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Developing a Prison Service in East Timor

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 28 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 8-9,24
Gary Hill
Date Published
April 2003
3 pages
This article examines the restructuring of the prison system in East Timor following the 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia.
The six prisons throughout East Timor were ransacked following the vote for independence in 1999. In January 2002, New Zealand prison officials traveled to East Timor to assess the situation and offer assistance in the rebuilding and redevelopment of the East Timor Prison Service. The article describes the process of the rebuilding and redevelopment, including how an international staff helped local staff and inmates rebuild prisons and how recruitment and training of staff was accomplished. One hundred and fifteen staff members were hired and given a 1-week training course, followed by on-the-job training. New prison regulations were drafted based on the United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners. In the drafting of new prison policies, practices, and procedures, staff again relied on the United Nations minimum standards and also drew from the basic framework of the New Zealand system. Inmate programs and activities were also developed, after the initial inmate work of rebuilding the prisons was completed. Psychosocial, recreational, and educational programs were adopted, along with basic art and sports activities. Within 2 years, the international and local staff had rebuilt 3 prisons and had developed and implemented training programs, inmate programs, and had developed prison regulations and policies.