The Prison Library Development Project and Pre-Release Programme by Sipar and the General Department of Prisons is now in its final phase of implementation and is seeing more prisoners reading.
Sipar director Hok Sothik on Friday said at a seminar in Phnom Penh that the first two phases of the prison library project, which started in March 2016, have been successfully completed and the third phase will be implemented over the next three years.
“Based on real needs and co-financed by the French Development Agency and Pierre Bellon Foundation for Human Development, Sipar and GDP is implementing the third and last phase of the project, costing $550,000, from March 2019 to February 2022,” he said. “This is good news for us.”
Mr Sothik said that more prisoners are now interested in reading books because there are libraries in the prisons.
“Prisons do not have entertainment services like on the outside, so they turn to read books,” he said. “Those who did not like to read books or had never read one have become avid readers now that they are in prison.”
In a press release, Sipar said that the first phase of the prison library project was implemented over three years from 2012 to 2015 at a cost of $500,000.
It said that following the success of the first project from 2012 to 2014, Sipar and GDP designed and submitted a new proposal for the second phase over three-years from March 2016 to February 2019 and received $600,000 in funding from AFD.
“The objectives of this project were to strengthen the existing prison library network and to provide other education services such as literacy classes and vocational training to the prisoners,” it said.
Prom Channy, the Interior Ministry’s Correction and Rehabilitation Department director, said at the seminar that a library in prison is very important and helps prisoners to gain knowledge and reduce boredom.
“Being in the library also helps them to be free for a short time from their narrow prison cells where tensions between inmates can flare due to the narrow confines,” he said.
Since the implementation of the project, more than 200,000 books have been distributed to 26 libraries in prisons nationwide.