Ann Nyathira Each year, thousands of incarcerated adults leave prisons to return to their families and society. While some manage to successfully reintegrate into their respective communities, find jobs and become productive individuals, many others will commit new crimes and end up being reincarcerated. This creates a profound humanitarian crisis in the prison department. Statistics show there are 54,000 inmates both convicted and remanded in all penal facilities with the accommodation capacity of 28,000 inmates countrywide. As the figure skyrocket, Kamiti Maximum Security Prison launched the Mind Education Training Programme in 2017 to curb recidivism (the tendency of convicts to repeat offences). The project was established through a partnership between Kenya Prison Services with International Youth Fellowship to give curriculum on mind education to wardens and inmates. \u201cMind Education is a character moulding programme. So far, we have worked with over 20 correctional facilities, giving inmates opportunities to be in new situations and find positive ways to interact with themselves and the larger society after release,\u201d says Henry Kuria, director of Mind Education Kenya. Profound changes Forty per cent of convicts became reincarcerated. Although several factors account for why some ex-prisoners succeed and some do not, Kuria cites high expectations after release and lack of education and skills as key reasons. Kuria says most of the returning citizens experience a sense of loss when they are released from prisons. Most of them are triggered by the profound changes in the lives they left behind. It is worse than culture shock, he says, comparing it to being taken to a foreign country, left there and made to learn everything afresh in a new language. \u201cLife in prison is disorienting and it is worse after release: you get back home, but you have no job and no money. For some, they find that life moved on and their families were not left behind. This combined with unemployment can pose a challenge for the reintegration of the returning citizens,\u201d he explains. Mind Education Training aims at empowering individuals with a strong and positive mindset that can overcome challenges using emotional intelligence. Self awareness, critical thinking and rediscovery of the self are some issues handled The inmates are taught how they can effectively adapt to situations inside correctional facilities\u2014where their schedules are highly regulated, with prison officials dictating what they can wear and when to eat, shower, or work and the outside world after release. \u201cYou don\u2019t realise how much the brain has gone dormant when you are put in an artificial environment that constrains your choices and limits their sensory information. This education helps the inmates change their perspectives and live a fruitful life during and after incarceration,\u201d he added. Stepping stone Kamiti Maximum Prison recently held its first graduation ceremony, featuring 94 successful students. Forty-six inmates graduated in Mind Education Programme, with 36 drawn from Kamiti and 10 from Thika prisons. The rest enrolled in theology studies facilitated by a Korean Bible College. Four of the graduates had already served their sentences and had recently reintegrated into society. Inmates got to listen to Dr Kim ki-Sung, a global renowned specialist in mind education from South Korea. He shared his testimony of 17 years in jail and gave the inmates hope on how embracing and learning mind education can impact one\u2019s life. Donning his graduation gown, Aggrey Mbau says the graduation has made solid the \u201csecond chance\u201d rhetoric that is encouraged by reformers, but often challenged by barriers that prevent formerly imprisoned people from getting a chance to better themselves. He got involved in criminal activities and while he maintains his guilt, insists that he has reformed and prays that his appeal goes through. \u201cThis is a huge stepping stone for me, I am a remarkable example that progress and knowledge are not limited behind the bars. Mind Education has really helped me grow into a better man. I may still be in prison physically, but I can proudly say that I am mentality liberated,\u201d he adds.