Technical, vocational training for prisoners, “Training Inside Prisons Act of 2016,”pushed in Senate

Inmates will never go back in jail if they are provided with skills training while in detention and job opportunities after they have completed their sentences.

With this in mind, neophyte Senator Joel Villanueva filed Senate Bill 212 known as “Training Inside Prisons Act of 2016,” which seeks to institutionalize skills development and provide job opportunities to inmates in detention facilities.

“There is a need to strengthen the rehabilitation function of criminal justice system in the Philippines. This can be done through the provision of skills development inside jails. Inmates have as much right to develop their skills and the walls of prison should not deter their learning,” Villanueva, former head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), said in his explanatory note in the bill.

He said transition services, especially technical, vocational education and training (TVET), can improve the self-esteem of inmates. “With employable skills, they can find new life when they leave detention, and never get back in jail again,” said the senator. “Tech-voc training will bring new hope to the detainees because they know they have the skills that can be their passport to employment opportunities once they leave jail. Through this, we also help solve congestion of jails and break the cycle of recidivism,” he further said.

Villanueva noted that there are 70,000 inmates in 989 jails nationwide who are mostly 18-39 years old, based on the records of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Through TVET, he said, these inmates could be transformed by equipping them with necessary competencies to re-enter the society.

“Training inside prison will be matched with job search assistance outside of prison,” said the senator.

Under the bill, a skills development training program will be established for inmates in the Philippines by Tesda, Department of Education and the Department of Justice. The funds needed to carry out the measure would be charged against the 2016 annual appropriations of Tesda, and thereafter, should be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

Villanueva said those who could avail of the program are inmates who have served their sentences and are keen on acquiring new work skills, and those considered for minimum security, whose maximum sentences are not longer than six years.

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