Rwanda: What Are Half-Way Homes and Why Is Rwanda Rolling Them Out?

Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS), on Thursday, May 25, launched construction works for halfway houses, facilities that will be used to prepare prisoners who are about to complete their sentences, for their return to their families and society.

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The first such facilities will be located in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province.

Such initiatives exist in a number of countries in the world, as an effort to assist people with criminal backgrounds or substance use disorder problems to learn (or relearn) the necessary skills to re-integrate into society and better support and care for themselves.

According to information from the RCS, in the local context, halfway social reintegration centres will accept preleased offenders from correctional facilities, and provide basic necessities for them while officials attempt to determine each individual’s problems for reintegration.

The Rwamagana facility, expected to be completed by April 2024, will cost more than Rwf1 billion and will host 2,000 male inmates and 500 females. Similar centres will be built in other provinces. They will provide vocational training and courses on entrepreneurship, conflict resolution, and management, to the prisoners on the verge of release.

The initiative is part of wider plans by the government to improve the justice sector.

According to the country’s new Criminal Justice Policy, the process of dispensation of justice should move from being punitive to correctional so that people become better after serving their jail terms. This applies in half-way houses and in the correctional centres too.