Recreational activities are generally not considered a priority in places of detention but nevertheless fulfil important roles:
- First of all they enable detainees to spend less time locked in their cells, which is particularly important for people in individual cells who do not engage in prison work during their incarceration.
- Recreational activities also aim to structure the days of detainees and reduce the tensions inherent in the deprivation of liberty by occupying them constructively and reducing the risk they face of developing symptoms of depression. Apart from having an occupational function, recreational activities also serve to improve the physical and mental well-being of detainees.
- Finally, recreational activities should be an integral part of the prison regime as they can also contribute to detainee reintegration. These activities are often conducted in groups and can therefore play a positive role in the socialisation of detainees and also foster their contacts with civil society (whenever activities are organised with external partners). In addition, by granting detainees the opportunity to propose and participate in the organisation of specific events and activities in prison they are encouraged to take on responsibility and show initiative. In order for these activities to effectively contribute towards reinsertion, detainees should be encouraged rather than compelled to participate in them.