Prison Fellowship Malawi (PFM) says the reception communities give ex-convicts determines the rate at which some of them engage in conduct that could lead them back to prison.
Speaking on Saturday in Balaka, PFM executive director Roderick Zalimba said in collaboration with police and prison services, the fellowship is mobilising communities to encourage them to tolerate ex-convicts and to sensitise them to the dangers of engaging in crime.
He said: “People usually build fences between them and ex-convicts. This tendency alienates them and compromises family bonding, re-integration, reconnection and reconciliation with the community.
“As such, ex-prisoners end up committing more crimes. We want to change this.”
Balaka Police station officer Nicholas Gondwa said the essence of the sensitisation meetings was to educate communities about criminal processes and reduce re-offending of ex-convicts.
“We have almost 16 000 prisoners in Malawi and PFM’s Halfway House in Balaka admits only 60 ex-convicts. So, there is need to engage communities to appreciate the dangers of committing crime,” he said.
PFM runs the Halfway House, which prepares ex-prisoners mentally, spiritually, physiologically and trains them in various skills such as carpentry, plumbing, brick-layering and tailoring apart from giving them tools and start-up capital.
The project is funded by the European Union.