New trainings offer new options for detainees in Mexico –

Reducing water waste and building skills: New trainings offer new options for inmates in Mexico

Detainees receiving training.© UNODC

Mexico City, September 20, 2022 – At first, prisoners may be delighted to be released from behind bars. Finally, they are free to earn a living, socialize with friends or have a meal with family.

In reality, however, former inmates face various challenges after serving their sentences. Discrimination, stigmatization and lack of professional skills can hinder their full social reintegration and even contribute to some committing new crimes (i.e. recidivism).

Time spent in prison can – and should – be used to help inmates acquire tools and skills that will enable them to come back as valued members of their community. Prisons that promote work programs are proven to foster greater social solidarity and reduce criminal recidivism. Indeed, reduced recidivism results in safer societies, lessens the burden on the criminal justice system and reduces costs to taxpayers.

With this in mind, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is working with the government of Mexico City and the private sector to provide training courses in prisons to help inmates find jobs once that they have served their sentence.

In July 2022, UNODC offered a training and certification workshop to inmates and guards at a Mexico City prison to show that social reintegration and green jobs can go hand in hand. 25 workshop participants gained basic skills and understanding regarding water maintenance and the social, economic and environmental benefits of rainwater harvesting systems for urban living environments.

As part of the training, a harvesting system was installed inside the prison. Collected rainwater will be used for cleaning purposes in some dormitories, while reducing the amount of water wasted. Participants received certification as qualified installers, which enhances their employability upon exit.

“I had never had a training like this before, and I realized that I had more skills than I thought,” said one recipient of the training. “The workshops also allow us to get out of the routine, occupy our minds and get to know more people.

Another participant said: “Learning to install these water supply systems is a new way to earn a living and also to grow as a person. Now I can prove that I have experience and qualifications in this field when looking for a job in the future. »

UNODC and its partners will carry out more environmentally friendly activities that promote social reintegration, such as workshops for women prisoners in Mexico City on the installation of solar panels.

All these experiences are compiled in a manual of good practices that will serve as a reference for social reintegration initiatives throughout Latin America.

More information

UNODC’s “Return to Community” project focuses on training and employment opportunities for people deprived of their liberty. This initiative provides inmates with tools that facilitate reintegration into society and reduce the risk of recidivism. At the same time, this project addresses the biases and prejudices experienced by this group and expands their support networks. To learn more, click here.