Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons in Bangladesh (IRSOP)

The Prisons in Bangladesh are overcrowded. The chief cause is the high proportion of under-trial prisoners (currently) around 70%. Bangladesh is not alone in having this problem which is on shared by most countries. In fact the prison Population in Bangladesh is increasing day by day. The causes are many and the prisons alone cannot solve this matter.
Therefore, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prison Directorate of Bangladesh are jointly implementing a project titled Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons in Bangladesh (IRSOP) where Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is providing technical assistance through PNGO.
Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons in Bangladesh (IRSOP) that has been implementing from 2008 in three pilot project areas (Dhaka, Bogra & Madaripur) with the support of  BMZ. From January 2013 DFID is providing support to the existing IRSOP project to extend its coverage of paralegal and other services from 5 to 40 districts. The project addresses the issue of overcrowding and reoffending in its working areas. The overcrowding happens because of slow judicial process, inadequate legal services and lack of coordination among the relevant agencies. Moreover other supports like rehabilitation for the prisoners doesn’t happen in an organized way, even the prison directorate doesn’t have that much collaboration with other agencies which provide this kind of support. The project currently working in the following specific areas: Paralegal Advisory Services (Output 1), Restorative Justice (Output 2), Reduction in Recidivism (Output 3) and Empowerment through Information (Output 4).
The Paralegal Advisory Services approach represents a low-cost method to provide effective legal advice and assistance for ordinary people in conflict with the criminal law through District Project Officer & Paralegal. The Paralegals are like “paramedics” who provides quick and free legal assistance/advice to the prisoners, their families and other justice seekers. They act as a bridge among different institutions of the Justice System e.g. Police Station, Court, sometimes in the community, especially women and children. They assist lawyers, police and courts and other criminal justice agencies to ensure appropriate legal service for the vulnerable people and other justice seekers. In appropriate cases they also work to identify the suitable prisoners for skill development and refer the drug dependant prisoners, which contributes to stop reoffending and also to reintegrate the prisoners into the society through appropriate rehabilitation. Paralegals are now working under the strong supervision of District Project Officer of the partner NGOs.

Overall Objective : To reduce the overcrowding in Prisons in Bangladesh

Specific Objective :
Overcrowding reduction in the project area prisons;
Mediating disputs es through mediation and Restorative Justice in the community level.
Diverting disputes in the Community through mechanisms such as Village Courts.
Assiting the released prisoners in re-settlement and re-integration together with Restorative Justice Mediators ,NGOs,CBOs,and Union organizers at the community level.

Paralegal Advisory Services (Output 1) : Madaripur, Gopalganj & Sirajganj District

Restorative Justice (Output 2) : Madaripur (16 Unions of 4 Upazila) & Gopalganj ( 8 Unions of 2 Upazila)

Reduction in Recidivism (Output 3) : Madaripur District

Major Activities Output- 2 & 3:

Activities of Output – 2

  1. Dispute Resolution through Mediation
  2. Dispute Resolution through RJ
  3. Diversion of the disputes from the formal Criminal Justice System
  4. Monthly CBO Meeting for ward CBO members
  5. Quarterly Central CBO Meeting
  6. Specializing Training for RJ Mediators
  7. Develop Master Trainers from community members
  8. Monthly Meeting with Police Staff at Upazilla Level
  9. Upazila Coordination Meeting
  10. Project Coordination Meeting

Awareness Raising Activities are:-

  1. Workshop on Criminal Justice System at Unions
  2. Court Yard Meeting
  3. One day Workshop (Criminal Justice systemRJ, and Social and legal issues)
  4. Forum Theater on RJ, and Social and legal issues

Major Activities of Output – 3

    • Skill Development of suitable prisoners
    • Referral for drug using prisoners