ONE of the main goals of the Correctional Service of Solomon Islands is to help offenders gain skills they need to live normal lives as law-abiding citizens after their prison sentence.
There is a widely held opinion that my organisation CSSI 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 behavior 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 CSII Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi
He led a team comprising of officers from Rove Central Correctional Centre, Director of Prison Fellowship Solomon Island, welfare office, and Counselor officer as well as the media to witness the reconciliation ceremony between inmate Stanley Gitoa and a victim’s Uncle Mex and his relatives.
The reconciliation ceremony was held at Tetere Correctional Centre in East Guadalcanal on Thursday, July 22.
Manelusi said through putting God first and people second, our success as individuals in contributing to the economy of the country would be guaranteed.
During the reconciliation ceremony at Tetere CC, Commissioner Manelusi told the people who were there to witness the event that, “reconciliation has no meaning if it is not aimed at achieving equality in life expectancy, education, employment and all the important measurable areas of disadvantages”.
Manelusi further stated that “reconciliation is about creating equity and equality, closing the gap and building relationships and also the final step in the forgiveness process done from a heart of love to the sinner, and love for others”.
The reconciliation ceremony was planned by rehabilitation programme unit with assistance from Prison Fellowship Solomon Islands known as Sycamore tree.
It turned out to be quite well-planned in terms of ground preparations and identifying middleman to get the families of the deceased and the inmate together as requested by the Executive administration.
“With the confidence and support of the stakeholders we managed to complete every paper and certificate for signing,” says Manelusi.
“It was a very emotional moment when these people spoke out their hearts’ burdens and accepted apologies, traditional shell money, $35,000.00 and garden foods presented by inmate Stanley Gitoa’s families to the families of the deceased,” he added.
Inmate Gitoa was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court. He has already served 9 years since 2012.
The reconciliation began with the welcome and followed by the CSSI Commissioner Manelusi explaining the process and procedures of why this reconciliation ceremony was very important to the Department of Correctional Service under inmates discharge planning.
Manelusi explained to the people that the reconciliation was very important for peace to prevail.
Obviously, the climax of the event was the confession from an emotional prisoner Stanley Gitoa who publicly announced his sorrow and paid customary items and cash to the victim’s families.
Manelusi, chaplain and Gabriel Soni (victim family) helped the prisoner and relatives of the victim to sign the certificates.
The ceremony and signing was also witnessed by chiefs, church leaders and representatives from the CSSI administration.
Simon Mani explained that CSSI and PFSI was the only institution in the country to conduct reconciliation programs between prisoners and victims or their family members.
He also explained that after the reconciliation, inmate Gitoa could be eligible for parole.