Good Practice 1

States should have appropriate legal frameworks pertaining to rehabilitation and reintegration efforts in their national legislation and procedural codes that are consistent with international law, standards, and norms.

There are a number of international instruments as well as standards and norms that highlight the importance of rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders. If States are developing new legislation or reviewing existing legislation in this field, they may want to consult these documents as a starting point for guidance. For instance, Article 10, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “the penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation”.7 Furthermore, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules), which provide comprehensive guidelines on the management of prisoners, includes specific references to the requirement for a legal authority or legal framework to underpin policies.8 In addition, the Mandela Rules note the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration. For example, Mandela Rule 107 notes “[f]rom the beginning of a prisoner’s sentence, consideration shall be given to his or her future after release and he or she shall be encouraged and provided assistance to maintain or establish such relations with persons or agencies outside the prison as may promote the prisoner’s rehabilitation and the best interests of his or her family”.9 

For those outside of a custodial setting, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules) also highlight the importance of legal frameworks by noting in rule 3.1 that “[t]he introduction, definition and application of non-custodial measures shall be prescribed by law”.10 In addition, the Tokyo Rules call for States to develop and operate a wide range of sentencing alternatives in order to assist offenders in their early reintegration into society. While international instruments, and international as well as regional norms and standards, can provide baseline guidance on rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, it is vitally important that legal frameworks for rehabilitation and reintegration are embedded in national legislation.

7. General Assembly Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex (16 December 1966).

8. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/175 (17 December 2015). It should be noted that while the Mandela Rules references the need for laws to underpin policies and procedures, there is not a direct requirement for rehabilitation but rather it highlights the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration.

9. Ibid. 10 General Assembly Resolution A/RES/ 45/110 (14 December 1990).

10. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/ 45/110 (14 December 1990).