Today, March 31st 2015, after more than five years of teaching performing arts in prison, LLECA signed a contract with the German Embassy, acting on behalf of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the realization of our project “Más Allá de las Rejas” = “Beyond Bars”. “Beyond Bars” was selected for a financial grant of €62,400.- and will be realized between April 1st and December 31st 2015. We wrote the project proposal together with the Nicaraguan foundation Vida Nueva (FVN), who have been successfully working in prison with their “Men of Value” program since 2012, and who have been our colleagues in the Dimitrov since last December. Thank you Germany for your confidence in us, we are very excited about this collaboration and are itching to start the project!
“Beyond Bars” aims to better the social reinsertion of (ex) prisoners and to promote their human, economic, social and cultural rights in prison. “Beyond Bars” will take place in and around three of Nicaragua’s eight penitentiaries: in the capital city Managua, the Northern city of Matagalpa and the Pacific city of Chinandega, where those sentenced to prison in León are also sent. These three city areas are those with the highest levels of violent crimes, and the prisons in these departments are most overcrowded. They are moreover the three places where LLECA and FVN are already active.
To achieve our goal, the project aims to:
1) Form an alliance of promotors of the human, economic, social and cultural rights of those deprived of liberty with a majoritarian participation of ex-prisoners themselves so that they may voice and visibilize the particular problems that this community confronts;
2) Educate the prisoner community about their human rights – especially their economic, social and cultural rights – and educate local civil society about the current situation of the prisons and the difficulties prisoners encounter upon their return to society so that they may join us in bettering their conditions;
3) Realize a) a study on the current situation of prisoner economic, social and cultural rights and b) a study on delinquent recidivism so that we can use these for the creation of a special course oriented to prison, police and government officials, and for the formulation of recommendations for the penitentiary law so that the education surrounding prisoner rights and social reinsertion of the (ex) prisoner may ameliorate.
The project works alongside the prisons’ Re-educational Direction and in the line of the Nicaraguan penitentiary law that stipulates the prisons’ main task is to provide education to the prisoner community so that they may acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to step away from criminal ends. To realize the project we will be organizing a series of events, including never before held municipal meetings of ex-prisoners; special workshops on economic, social and cultural rights; on prisoner rights; an education campaign in the local and national media to counter ex-prisoner stigmatization; a special course on the prevention of recidivism for social workers and government officials; and lobbying with local businesses to include (ex) prisoners in their corporate social responsibility programs. Moreover, we will continue with our performing arts workshops, creating with the prisoner theatre group in Matagalpa a play that will be presented at all prisons; and another with Lleca Teatro’s group, incorporating ex-prisoners, that we will tour nationally. We will also record a documentary of the project’s progress and present this in the three cities in the last months of the project. We will be posting updates and invitations to these special events on our homepage and under the category “Más Allá de las Rejas // Beyond Bars”.