On the 15th of January 2007, we conducted the first Prison SMART course in Morrocco thanks to the efforts of Amina and Ibrahim Slaoui, Directors of IAHV Morrocco and Nathalie Schaller, Morrocco. Thirty five juvenile delinquents in the Casablanca Correctional Center and five correctional officers took part in the pilot Prison SMART course and the strong connection was made between the young boys and the officers. Every day, we watched all forty participants getting stronger by the day, smiling and shining with joy and warmth.
Based on this pilot course, the prison management was to decide if the Prison SMART will continue in other prisons as well.
Six members from Youth Leadership Training Program used to come to the prison every day to help, translate and care for each course participant.
The last day of the course, prison managers and officials from the Ministry of Justice were invited to hear the sharing of the course participants and they were all deeply touched by the experiences of the young boys. The faces of the boys were shining with love and gratitude and their testimonies brought tears to the eyes of the prison officials and guests from the Ministry of Justice. Of course then THERE WAS NO DOUBT ABOUT CONTINUATION OF PRISON SMART IN MOROCCO. After hearing the testimonies, the Minister of Justice had brought the decision to build new facilities for the boys because the boys in the correctional center lived in terrible conditions. 100 boys were put in the small space which was meant to be for maybe thirty people and there were only two toilets.
The director of several youth prisons, Mrs Assiae Loudie was impressed by the transformations among the course participants and especially by the strong connection and feeling of belongingness between the young prisoners and the correctional officers. The director said that one of the biggest problems in the prison is the negativity among the prisoners and prison staff and she said that she could feel the strong connection made between the two groups thanks to the Prison SMART program. She also mentioned that the positive changes among the prisoners were so visible on their faces after the course and that she would give her full support to Prison SMART project hereafter.
Mrs Assiae, lovingly called Mama Assiae, organized the next Prison SMART course with forty girls in the Casablanca Correctional Center for female juvenile delinquents, and then again, another forty boys from the Correctional Center took the course. It took me only a few weeks in January and April to teach totally 200 youth delinquents (70 and 130 boys) and 20 educators.
The educators and prison guards in youth prisons have conclusively reported that Prison SMART:
- is vital for rehabilitation and education of juveniles and prisoners in general
- is the first program in their prison that deals with the cause of violent and criminal behavior and gives genuine rehabilitation
- has brought together prison staff and prisoners
Here are the experiences of some juvenile delinquents from Casablanca prisons:
- "I feel light, joyful and more calm"
- "Usually, nobody visits us in the prison, nobody asks how we are doing! This is why we will never forget the atmosphere of love and care during the workshop"
- "I sleep better during the night and I am less depressed"
- "I want to become Prison SMART teacher and help others to feel better"
- "It is so good to be in the present moment and less in the past or future"
- "I feel more togetherness with others and less lonely"
"Today, the Prison SMART courses are continuing in Casablanca prisons and we are hearing about wonderful transformations of prisoners, juvenile delinquents and prison staff."
Full time AOL teacher