During this year the pastoral ministry in the Tirana/Durres prisons has continued with commitment. As the chaplain to these prisons there has been a consistency in assisting the prisoners according to their needs and the opportunities offered but also according to the rooms created by the institution for this important work. 360 Prisoners took part in the pastoral activities who are in constant need to grow spiritually. This is the paramount work but their needs for social assistance and materials are important and numerous because of the very reality in which they live.
The opportunities to help are few, this is because of the large numbers, but also in relationship to the demand and the needs that they present. This may be dependent simply on the physical time which they require in measures which are impossible to fulfill within the given schedule of the visit. Please click here to read the progress report on the Prison Chaplaincy Project…
Conditions in the Albanian prisons are inadequate, overcrowded, without necessary medical personnel and abused by those who suffer from mental health problems. Folders of the mentally ill have defined diagnoses that do not exist. European Institute of Tirana has a monitor in all prisons in the country and has submitted a detailed report. The study focused on how treated people with mental problems who are serving sentences in prisons. It is reported that 70% of prisoners suffer from mental disorders, which have either had or have acquired during their stay in prison. These people do not have the appropriate personnel to be treated by medical, lacking social workers and psychologists. Throughout the country there are only two psychologists who treat inmates with mental problems. Prisons are overcrowded. They have more prisoners than prison capacity. The further away from the major centres, the worst prison conditions are.
Across the country serving sentences in prisons are 4764 people, of which 125 minors, 87 women and 4552 men. 70% of prisoners suffer from mental disorders. Under the new law, all persons should be treated the same as those in prison as those who are out of prison, enjoy equal rights to obtain necessary medical service. The new law is effective, but it remains to be seen if it will be implemented or not.
The prison chaplaincy activity includes:
-The celebration of the Holy Mass for the prisoners;
-Prior to the Mass a religious instruction session and confession;
-Individual conversations with prisoners in the prison chapel and in their private cells;
-The engagement of the prisoners in creating a nice environment for having the mass through recreational activities;
-Meetings in groups regarding the behavior and relationship between the prisoners;
-Negotiating with prisoners and their families for reconciliation or re-building their relationships;
-Linking with lawyers on behalf of the prisoners, because in many cases due to fast conviction or lack of money some prisoners have not been given their right to access a lawyer;
-Accompanying the families who do not have economic possibilities or because of blood revenge, to the prison, to meet their familiars in prison;