By ROSELYN ELLISON
ONE of the main goals of the PNG Correctional Service is to help offenders gain skills they need to live normal lives as law-abiding citizens after their prison sentences.
There is a widely held opinion that the department can help people out of their offending behaviour, however the reality is quite different.
The Correctional Service aims to help them get their lives back on track by better understanding their offending behaviour and learning new ways to avoid any reoffending.
“Our priority is God, family and partnership. Our goal is to be a place where prisoners (our most valuable asset) have the opportunity to grow spiritually, personally and intellectually,” says Kerevat Jail officer Cpl John Josika.
He led a team comprising of officers from Community-Base Correction, welfare office, and police as well as the media to witness the reconciliation ceremony between Kerevat detainee James Tetesa and a victim’s mother Pauline Mark and his own daughter Matilda Tovi.
Josika is also the Kerevat’s welfare rehabilitation programme coordinator.
The reconciliation ceremony was held at Palmalmal government station in Pomio District, East New Britain on Saturday, Jan 14.
Josika said through putting God first and people second, our success as individuals in contributing to the economy of the province and country would be guaranteed.
During the reconciliation ceremony at Misa Village which is in West Pomio-Mamusi LLG Josika told the people who were there to witness the event that, “our corporate values are paramount when priority service delivery in managing offender sentence and conducive containment and developing leadership and management capabilities of detainees are focused on rehabilitation on the basis of convict detainee discharge planning.”
Josika further stated that the detainee rehabilitation policy targeted and utilised detainees who have successfully gone through security management processes and presented no risks to the prison environment and public at large. Such inmates actively participate in rehabilitation and prison industry programmes. Reconciliation is part of that process, he said.
Josika also outlined that sentence management should include:
Encouraging positive changes in behaviour and attitude;
Providing good social examples;
Challenging detainees’ behaviour to promote self-esteem;
Encouraging detainees to take responsibility for their actions; and
Promoting detainees self-control and positive problem-solving skills.
The reconciliation in Pomio was itself historical occasion for the Kerevat Jail, the detainee and his relatives and the victim’s relatives.
This occasion opened a new chapter for Kerevat Jail as the regional jail. Prison officers travelled eight hours by boat out of Kokopo to witness the significant event between detainee Tetesa, his daughter and the victim’s mother Pauline.
The reconciliation ceremony was planned by Kerevat’s welfare rehabilitation programme coordinator with assistance from clan leaders. It turned out to be quite well-planned in terms of ground preparations and identifying middlemen to get the families of the deceased and the inmate together as requested by the Kerevat Jail administration.
Credit must also go to the Palmalmal district administration and the officer in charge (OIC) of Palmalmal police lockup Snr Sgt Mary Kalkal for their assistance prior to arrival of the team from Kokopo.
“With the confidence and support of the stakeholders we managed to complete every paper and certificate for signing,” says Josika.
At Palmalmal government station we took a one hour 45 minutes drive to Misa village Mamusi to witness the reconciliation ceremony between Tetesa, his daughter Mathilda Tovi and Mark,
It was a very emotional moment when these people spoke out their hearts’ burdens and accepted apologies, traditional shell currency, K3,620 and garden foods presented by Tetesa’s families to the families of the deceased.
“ With the confidence and support of the stakeholders we managed to complete every paper and certificate for signing.”
On our way to Misa village I had a chance to chat with the detainee and he shared an account of what happened more than 20 years ago at Open Bay in Pomio.
Tetesa recalls that he murdered his father in-law (his wife’s biological father) and his wife when he caught them committing incest.
Tetesa was convicted and sentenced to 34 years by the Kokopo National Court. He has already served 22 of those years.
The reconciliation began with the welcome and followed by the Kerevat Jail acting officer in charge of discharged Sgt Boas Molen explaining the process and procedures of why this reconciliation ceremony was very important to the Department of Correctional Service under inmates discharge planning.
Community-Based Correction officer Nigel Amos explained to the community that the reconciliation was very important for peace to prevail. Obviously, the climax of the evident was the confession from an emotional detainee Tetesa who publicly announced his sorrow and paid customary items and cash to the victim’s families.
Kerevat Jail welfare section acting manager Insp Eriel Kaore and Sgt Molen helped the prisoner and relatives of the victim to sign the certificates. The ceremony and signing was also witnessed by clan leaders and representatives from the district administration.
Josika explained that Kerevat in ENB was the only CS institution in the country to conduct reconciliation programmes between detainees and victims or their family members.
So far Kerevat Jail has conducted nine reconciliation ceremonies between detainees and victims.
Josika also explained that after the reconciliation that Tetesa could be eligible for parole.