Over 100 delegates from 29 European countries gathered in Barcelona to participate at the CEP final conference of the European project DOMICE (Developing Offender Management in Corrections in Europe), on 29th and 30th September. “Case management is critical to the effectiveness and efficiency of correctional systems. Therefore we were very proud to provide a platform to improve mutual knowledge and exchange best practices on this topic”, reacts Marc Cerón, as Deputy Director General Alternative Sanctions of the Catalonian Autonomous Government one of the hosts of the conference.
DOMICE was started in 2009 on the initiative of the National Offender Management Service for England & Wales (NOMS). It united partner organisation from Denmark, Bulgaria, Catalonia, the Netherlands and the UK, as well as CEP. Via a comparative study of approaches to case management in prison and probation administrations across Europe, the project aimed to identify best practices as well as what works in case management (CM).
“In order to collect the data on CM, five so-called Focus Groups were organised”, explains Marc Cerón, who is also the President of CEP. “These were regional meetings, held in Barcelona, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Sofia and Frankfurt. At the Focus Groups national delegates were invited to explain how case management in corrections is organised in their countries. Also they were challenged to reflect on their CM arrangements and CM systems. The findings of the Focus Groups formed the basis of the DOMICE conference.”
The final conference of DOMICE was kindly hosted by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, which offered a venue, two receptions and the opportunity to hold a press conference. “The Justice Department of the Government of Catalonia runs the management of the Catalonian Prison and Probation systems from 1984”, explains Marc Cerón. “From the very beginning it wanted to engage its activities with the best practices around Europe. For this reason, the Justice Department became member of CEP. Nowadays one of the best options to innovate is to take part in EU founded projects, in particular in those related with key actions of our mission: ensure the safety of the public improving the way to deliver, in terms of rehabilitation, with offenders. That is why we were keen, and honoured, to organse the DOMICE final conference.”
As every country has designed its own CM structure, the information presented at the conference was very rich. One of the main conclusions, however, was that CM arrangements are rarely designed to span whole correctional systems. They are almost always specific to a particular stage of the system, a particular provider or project or sentence or environment.
“It is quite remarkable that no country has a truly integrated CM system that spans prison, probation and other correctional agents”, reacts Marc Cerón. “As I said before, CM is crucial for the success of the correctional systems in protecting the public from further crime by rehabilitating the offenders. Therefore we need to optimize the circumstances for the case managers. After all CM is not just applying procedures, but is about producing changes in the lives of ex-offenders. So it is not maths; it is about chemistry. That is a clear message that was sent out at the conference.”
Another clear message was that DOMICE is the start of an international dialogue about correctional case management, not the completion of it. Marc Cerón: The conference showed that there is no simple off-the-shelf system which can be transplanted from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore ways should be found to continue to exchange information so that each system can learn from others. CEP will support this by hosting a dedicated website, which will contain overviews of the CM arrangements of more than 30 jurisdictions in Europe. More about this website will be announced in the next CEP Newsletter.”