Wells of Hope in partnership with University of Illinois and in collaboration with Uganda prisons services carried out a research on the Uganda reentry guide for two weeks from 16th to 27th July. The research was a combination of activities but majorly about visiting the service providers. These were organizations and companies believed to have services that would help the incarcerated members once they have been released.
The research team was headed by Rebecca Ginsburg, a professor at the University of Illinois, Johnny Paige, an American researcher and four Ugandans namely: Shiphrah, Brian, Godfrey and Charles; making a team of six researchers and Patricia from Wells of Hope who was the Ugandan coordinator. These were the people who would go out to visit different service providers and carry out interviews. The interviews were about finding out if these service providers would offer any services that the incarcerated people would use or need, for example how a person who has been released from prison can obtain a national ID, counseling services, among others.
Before the actual research began, there was training for the researchers on 16th July. It was led by Rebecca who oriented the researchers on how to conduct the interviews and how to approach the service providers. The researchers had to do play roles and read different handouts before they set out for the research; and they conducted the research in pairs.
A Reentry Advisory Committee was formed to help to evaluate the daily activities while the research was being conducted. This composed of service providers, formerly incarcerated people and well wishers. During the research, there was a general committee called the Reentry Guide Research Council which comprised church leaders UPS officials and different organization members. They met once to talk about progress so far and a way forward. They discussed about the places that were visited then and how to make the project sustainable without relying on the University of Illinois or Rebecca because funds were not enough to continue sustaining it for a long period.
Rebecca and Johnny interacted with inmates at Upper prison Luzira and Women prison Luzira to also give them an update on the guide. They all expressed their thoughts about the guide and said it was a promising project and they were hopeful that once it comes out it will be a good thing for the incarcerated members and their families.
Johnny encouraged them and motivated them that being in prison doesn’t mean that all hope is gone; that there is more to look out for. He told them that it’s them to change the people’s attitudes and perception about the people in prisons. He urged them to be good representatives for all incarcerated people. There were committees that were formed in both prisons and this was to make communication easy.
During the research, Rebecca interacted with the Commissioner General of Prisons Dr. Johnson Byabashaija; and she updated him about the progress of the research. The commissioner shared that Reentry is at the heart of every correctional institution. He said that there was a gap of reentry; and thanked Rebecca through the University of Illinois for helping Uganda get one.
We thank Rebecca Ginsburg, the University of Illinois, the Uganda Prisons Service, Jonny Paige, the entire research team and everyone who has come on board to help in the research about the Reentry Guide for Uganda