Information on the work accomplished in the framework of the State Probation Service project No. LV08/1 “Increasing the Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveillance)”
Norwegian Financial Mechanism programme LV08 “Reform of the Latvian Correctional Services and Police Detention Centres” State Probation Service (hereinafter – SPS) project No. LV08/1 “Increasing the Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveillance)” (hereinafter – the Project) was implemented from the 3rd of June 2013 till the 30th of April 2017. This is the largest development project in the history of the SPS with the total budget of 2 733 518.73 EUR.
- Prison Administration (Latvia);
- Court Administration (Latvia);
- Mediation Service (Norway);
- Ila Detention and Security Prison (Norway);
- Oslo Probation Service (Norway);
- Ministry of Justice (Estonia);
- Confederation of European Probation.
Implementation of electronic monitoring
Informational and administrative support was provided for the preparation of draft laws on implementation of electronic monitoring, including training visits to Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, Estonia and Norway were organised for the working group of the Ministry of Justice working on the relevant draft laws.
Parallel to the development of the draft laws, the preparation of the electronic monitoring public procurement procedures was initiated. This procurement was the most complex in the history of the SPS and the implementation of the procedure was unexpectedly time consuming. The development of the draft laws and the preparation of the procurement procedure was informed by the conclusions of the research “On the Use of the New Alternative: Defining the Application Criteria” carried out in the framework of the project, as well as in-person consultations by experts from Norway and Estonia. The implementation of the electronic monitoring was supervised by the responsible Parliamentary Commission – Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Commission. The SPS hosted several outings of this Commission to inform about the implementation of the electronic monitoring and other current events in this context.
As a result, the most reliable and at the same time the most widespread electronic monitoring technical solution in the world was implemented in Latvia – a base station installed in the client’s place of residence, which uses radio waves to communicate with an ankle monitor, allowing to leave the place of detention sooner than in the case of regular conditional early release. The convicted persons were able to start to apply for electronic monitoring from July 2015. At the same time, a five-year procurement contract was concluded with the electronic monitoring service provider “SuperCom Limited”, the infrastructure of information and communication technologies required for the electronic monitoring was created, as well as the electronic monitoring center which works 24/7 and training was provided for the SPS employees.
In 2014 – 2015, extensive informational work was carried out to inform the cooperation partners on the current changes in the legislation related to the introduction of electronic monitoring and criminal punishment guidelines by organising regional seminars, including the meetings of regional and divisional Advisory Councils. Overall twelve regional seminars were organised for cooperation partners (~450 participants – the leading experts of criminal justice) and seventeen additional seminars in the prisons of Latvia (~680 participants – prison staff and the convicted persons).
In June 2015, an international expert-led workshop with 40 participants was organized for the leading specialists of the SPS and its partners regarding electronic monitoring and the experience of other states.
In April 2016, in cooperation with the Confederation of European Probation the 10th Electronic Monitoring Conference was organized in Latvia which was attended by 40 experts from Latvia and over 170 experts from around the world.
In June 2016, an extensive social campaign was implemented to inform the public about the electronic monitoring and dispel the existing stereotypes.
Until the conclusion of the project, 115 persons, who have been granted a conditional early release from the punishment related to deprivation of liberty, were involved in the program.
Establishment of a system for working with young probation clients
A volunteering program (fellowship) was developed and implemented, which, among other activities, included the selection and training of volunteers, involvement of probation clients and the monitoring of the cooperation with the volunteer, compensation of the direct expenses incurred by the volunteers, organisation of informational events for the industry professionals and the general public, as well as the development of the methodological materials of the volunteer program. Over 100 volunteers were trained for working with young clients and 49 probation clients were involved in the volunteer program.
The SPS and prison system employees received the training on the “Protection of the Rights of a Child”. SPS employees who specialise in working with young probation clients received the following additional training:
- Good practices for working with young offenders with deviant behavior;
- Implementation of the probation program “Ready! Set! Go!”;
- Volunteer program for working with young probation clients.
In cooperation with the Norwegian Mediation Service, five regional workshops with 184 participants were organized for the SPS al cooperation in working with minor offenders.
A probation program for youth “Ready! Set! Go!” was developed and licensed, and its implementation has been started. The program involves nine probation clients.
In December 2016, a conference was organized for the SPS volunteers, involving 68 participants (SPS employees, volunteers and specialists from other institutions).
Activities for maintaining and increasing professional qualification
In the framework of the project an e-learning environment was developed and implemented, based on the Moodle platform, also new training courses were developed and integrated in the SPS training system:
- Conversational skills development training for trainers;
- Conversational skills development training for employees;
- Management of changes;
- Working with people with mental health disorders;
- The new alternative – electronic monitoring;
- Protection of rights of a child;
- Good practice for working with children with delinquent behavior;
- Behavioral correction program for youth “Ready! Set! Go!”;
- Application of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide-Revised (VRAG-R) tool;
- The new risk and needs appraisal tool for the SPS.
In collaboration with the Training and Research Division of the SPS 148 training activities were organised, where 1760 SPS employees and 728 prison system specialists participated.
To improve the quality of the probation work in working with the client and provide mutual support to colleagues, 69 peer reviews were organised attended by 1118 SPS employees. Peer reviews were organised concerning all probation functions.
In 2015, in cooperation with the Norwegian Mediation Service training was organised on restorative justice and mediation between the victim and the offender, involving ten experts from Norway and twenty experts from Latvia.
In December 2016, the SPS and Prison Administration conference “Four Forms of Offender Rehabilitation – Towards an Interdisciplinary Model” was organised. The conference was attended by 200 selected professionals, including project partners from other countries.
The SPS employees had the opportunity to consult with highly qualified mental health professionals and receive professional supervision individually and in group.
Another way to increase the professional competence of the employees is the participation in international conferences and exchange visits, which allows sharing the best practices in various areas of probation work and learn from the experience of other countries. With a financial support from the project 139 SPS employees took part in 66 professional qualification events abroad.
The opportunity to receive assistance from qualified mental health professionals was provided also to individual probation clients alongside with other behavioral correction services.
The travel expenses were covered for 37 disadvantaged and low-income probation clients, so that they could take part in the probation program activities (behavioral correction activities), if the activities are carried out in another territorial unit of the SPS.
Assistance of highly qualified mental health professionals was ensured to seventeen probation clients to address their mental health problems, which significantly complicate the SPS interventions and the integration in society of these individuals.
Administrative capacity of the SPS and equipment
The financial support from the project was used to update all SPS hardware, purchase new printing equipment, including scanners and multi-functional equipment, smartphones with wireless internet connection, a server with complete software, voice recorders and fireproof cabinets.
For project research needs the SPS purchased licensed research software which was installed on the researcher’s workstations.
The state information system for Probation case accounting (PLUS) was significantly improved:
- The system was adapted to meet the requirements of the electronic monitoring program;
- The system kernel was updated;
- The data retention quality was improved;
- The functional design of the system was improved;
- An administrative management module was developed to ensure the task workflow and receiving documents from the Document management software (DocLogix). It is expected that this module will cut the relevant administrative burdens. Module also includes sound and optimized solutions for assembling and managing the probation programs;
- A reporting module was developed. This solution will allow creating reports forms without outsourcing;
- Integrated solution for the control of data validity period;
- Ability to administer system fields based on the user rights;
- Algorithm for the automatic calculation of the client’s risk of recidivism (analysis of criminal record), based on the conclusions of the project research;
- Research module for recidivism studies in various aspects;
- A new Risk and needs assessment platform was created;
- A new Electronic client testing platform was created.
- The upgraded system has a new graphic and functional design, which facilitates information processing and ensures a more ergonomic work and it increases the overall administrative capacity of the SPS by at least 15% – reduced administrative burden and more time for working directly with the probation client. PLUS was prepared for further refinement in the framework of the state unified e-criminal case project – all necessary preparations were carried out to integrate PLUS with other information systems.
Several important researches were completed during the project implementation:
- “Research on the use of the new alternative: defining application criteria”;
- “Research on the introduction of the program for work with young offenders, recommendations for the program improvements”;
- “Research on the provisions of Criminal Law related to preventive supervision and preventive detention in other countries as well as the analysis of Latvian legislation in this regard”;
- “Research on efficiency of risk and needs assessment: verification of the risk assessment and its prognostic validity”;
- “The assessment patterns for determining the risk of recidivism in case of general and violent offenses”;
- “Research on the efficiency of the probation programmes “Development of Respectful Relationship”, “Management of Emotions” and “Management of Substance Abuse””;
- “The relation of the participation of probation clients in social behavior correction programs and criminal recidivism”;
- “Development of competence models of the program managers and integration in SPS”;
- “Perceptions and attitude of the probation case managers towards the probation programs”;
- “Assessment of the application of electronic monitoring”.
The most active bilateral cooperation was carried out with the Oslo Probation Service of Norway, the representative of which was also the member of the Project Steering Committee. The Oslo Probation Service provided advice on the administrative and strategic management of the project, as well as consulted the leading experts from Latvia regarding the development and implementation of the electronic monitoring model, participating in various events in Latvia, both by hosting Latvian experts in visits to Norway and offering consultative support remotely (phone, e-mail).
The Norwegian Ila prison provided the training for motivational interviewing for the SPS and prison system trainers, as well as the professional qualification maintenance and further training for the existing trainers in Latvia. The trainers visited Latvia 2 times a year and worked with a group of motivational interviewing trainers.
The Norwegian Mediation Service provided training in Latvia on restorative justice and mediation between the victim and the offender and shared their experience in regional workshops on the organisation of inter-institutional cooperation in work with young offenders.
The bilateral cooperation partners provided advisory support to the organisation of the final conference of the project, which took place in December 2016, as well as participated in the conference as speakers.
During the project activities, 44 Norwegian experts visited Latvia and two exchange visits to Norway were organised.
An extensive public informative campaign on electronic monitoring and the volunteer program (fellowship) for youth was organised, including informative seminars in places of detention. Social networks and all types of media were actively used to inform the general public. Each year press conferences were organised to inform the general public about the implemented project activities and were well attended by journalists. It is not possible to determine the exact number of publications on the implemented project activities, as there are several thousands; the majority of the publications concerned the electronic monitoring, followed by the work with young offenders, while other project activities did not arouse any substantial public interest.