The government is rolling out a programme in collaboration with various stakeholders to make the prisons more accessible for people with disabilities.

Speaking during a visit to the prisons today, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela said certain steps had already been taken with two ramps installed one near the entrance and one leading to the chapel.

One cell has also been equipped for wheelchair users, Mr Abela said.

During the visit, Mr Abela was accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana and National Commission for Persons with a Disability president Oliver Scicluna.

Mr Abela said obese prisoners were also being encouraged to take part in special physical activity classes.

The minister said that a six-week course had kicked off this week to train prison warders. Part of the training was about dealing with disabled prisoners.

Dr Caruana said the government would also be recruiting a sign language interpreter for the prison.

Mr Abela said more attention needed to be given to people with mental health problems. For one could not remove their dignity besides their freedom.

The services given when people were first admitted to prisons should also be improved to include an examination by a multidisciplinary team that would include social workers and doctors to assess the new prisoners.

This would help identify the prisoner’s needs for more successful rehabilitation once they carried out their sentence.

The minister noted that the gender identity bill, which was now entering second reading stage, would give transsexual prisoners the right to choose whether to be in the men’s or women’s wing.