On the 13th and 14th of September 2018, CEP and the West University of Timisoara organised the 7th edition of International Conference, SPECTO. The conference was held in Timisoara, Romania. The theme of the conference was “Multidisciplinary Perspectives in the Quasi-Coercive Treatment of Offenders”
The conference was opened by Prof. Dr. Marilen Gabriel Pirtea, Rector of the West University of Timisoara, Gerry McNally, President of the Confederation of European Probation, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mariana Crasovan, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, West University of Timisoara and Prof. Dr. Mihaela Tomita, President of the SPECTO Conference, West University of Timisoara.
After the opening, the first plenary presentation about women imprisonment and resettlement in Europe was held by Gillian McIvor. Ms. McIvor said that women are a special group, because compared to men in prison, there are not many of them. Characteristics of women in prison are: low education, experience of abuse, mental, physical and other health problems. Many of them are mothers and have problems with alcohol and/or drugs. Ms. McIvor explained the general pathways for women into crime. One reason is poverty. In prison the vocational education is feminised and does not reflect the labor market. The presentation was followed by a round table on “Groups with special needs in community measures”, chaired by Willem van der Brugge, Secretary General of CEP.
The second plenary presentation was held by Ioan Durnescu with the title “Work as a drama -The experience of former prisoners on the labour market”. Ioan Durnescu stated that many former prisoners experiences that “the real sentence starts after release”. Ioan described the struggles of getting work after being in prison. The ones that are successful are in general the ones that have families or friends to help them in the labour market.
The presentation was followed by the second round table on “Community and its “Lenses” in Justice: Therapeutic Justice”, Chaired Maria Terzidou, Director of Greek REITOX Focal point.
After a well-deserved lunch, eight parallel breakout sessions took place. The theme´s varied from community sanctions versus custodial sanctions to migration and human trafficking to violent extremism. All interesting themes and in all groups lively discussions took place.
The third plenary session was about rebuilding family ties after serving a prison sentence. Attila Juhasz, vice chair in the Council of Europe’s group for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP) and former governor in the Hungarian Prison Service, talked about the struggles for families with one or both parents in prison. , Mr. Juhasz also informed the participants on the successful project “Storybook Mums”.
The last plenary session of the day was by Maria Terzidou, about “Health care in the prison settings in Greece and Europe”.
The second day
The second day started with a plenary presentation by CEP’s president Gerry McNally, who gave the audience an international perspective on people with special needs within correctional systems. His presentation was followed by a roundtable about supporting people with special needs in jail, chaired by Ioana Morar, vice Director of the Romanian National Administration of Penitentiary.
Ms. Jana Spero was the second plenary speaker on the programme. Her presentation was about working with people that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders in the Croatian Prison and Probation Service. Since the war in Croatia during the 90´s, Croatia has a large amount of offenders that suffer from PTSD. They therefore developed working methods for this group of offenders with special needs.
The last plenary speech was held by Ms. Mihela Tomitha about resilience of special need groups in the criminal justice system.
It was conference packed with interesting presentations, a lot of discussions and a brilliant opportunity for academics and practitioners, mostly from the eastern part of Europe, to come together and share knowledge and best practices.