The amount of mental health and healthcare professionals working with prisoners inside Corradino Correctional Facility has drastically increased from three people to 23 people over the last two years.
“There were just three professionals – now we have a total of 23,” prison director Alex Dalli told Lovin Malta. “This includes psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, care plan coordinators and doctors and nurses.”
Dalli, who accepted an interview with Lovin Malta for the first time last month, continued to explain what he believes are the pillars that Malta’s prison needs to be built on.
“Prison is built on four pillars – security, administration, care and re-integration, and prison industries,” he continued. “The care and reintegration pillar needed reinforcement, and we did just that.”
Interestingly, some of these workers who spoke to Lovin Malta explained that when it comes to prisoners’ issues and mental health, the most prevalent problem inmates speak about is finding coping methods to deal with their loss of freedom and related anxiety, and not other suspected issues such as, say, aggressive thoughts.
That said, Dalli was clear on not allowing prisoners “abuse” from mental health concerns.
“Mental health is considered to be equally important to any other health needs of our inmates,” Dalli continued. “The only difference under my watch is that no one abuses to play truant – that is, playing mentally unhealthy to run away from a prison sentence.”
Dalli emphasised on the importance of finding positive ways for inmates to spend their time, and possibly also earn some money for themselves. Whereas only a few jobs were offered in prison up until a few years ago, they’ve been expanded to include things like masonry and paintwork.
“I’ve spoken about prison industry and care and re-integration. A lot of the masks being used in government departments are made here,” Dalli explained. “The agency is then paid for them, and that money can be paid to the prisoners.”
“Another area of prison industry is having inmates leave prison to clean schools to not only fill their time but also have some form of income for what they are doing,” he said.
Dalli said that these positive aspects of prison life are rarely talked about, and praised the success stories that emerge from prison stronger than they entered.
“There are prisoners who worked hard enough in prison and educated their children and ended up attending their children’s graduation as they became doctors or lawyers. Unfortunately, these stories don’t come out every day, but there they are,” he said.
You can watch Lovin Malta’s exclusive video interview with Malta’s prison director from tomorrow, only on Lovin Malta.