AN AMBITIOUS PROJECT IMPLEMENTED BY THE ROMANIAN PRISON AND PROBATION SERVICES
On 24 June 2021, the National Administration of Penitentiaries and the National Probation Directorate from Romania has launched the “Correctional” project. Secretary-General of the CEP, Mr Willem van der Brugge attended this important online event together with more than 100 participants from Romania and Norway. The “Correctional” project is funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021, through the Justice Programme, managed by the Ministry of Justice as a Programme Operator.
In this article, we have explored the details of this project together with Ms Iuliana CĂRBUNARU (CEP Board member, Coordinator of the probation, Correctional project, National Probation Directorate, Romanian Ministry of Justice) and Mr Iuliu Maximilian OANĂ (manager of the Correctional project, National Administration of Penitentiaries, Romanian Ministry of Justice).
About the project
The Romanian National Administration of Penitentiaries, as a Project Promoter, is implementing the “Correctional” Project, worth 31 million euros, in partnership with six Romanian institutions and five Norwegian entities, between 2019 and 2024. The Romanian National Probation Directorate is one of the main partners of this strategic project.
What we aim at
”We will have a closer collaboration between prison and probation, open to the civil society, for an easier reintegration of convicted persons.”
The project will address the organizational management, working tools, overall capacity, practice related to reintegration processes, human resources, working and detention conditions, as well as issues concerning Roma and other social exclusion risk categories of offenders, so as to enable the Romanian correctional system to better perform its tasks, to effectively respond to challenges and, consequently, to meet the needs of the system’s users, including by means of providing an effective alternative to prison interventions. It also seeks to raise awareness among legal practitioners and other stakeholders on the advantages pertaining to the social reintegration of inmates, former inmates and offenders under probation supervision, as well as to develop specific interventions in 4 pilot correctional centres, which will contribute to altering criminal behaviour and reducing recidivism.
Pilot correctional centres and new detention places complying with European standards, aiming to implement the seamless principle
We will create 1.160 new detention places by setting up four pilot correctional centres in 4 regions of Romania. We will develop six new social reintegration instruments, which will be used by the partner prisons and contribute to implementing the “seamless” principle and the inmates will be included in the pilot programmes of the correctional centres. We will assess the prison and probation population trends and develop a method for calculating the reoffending rate. We will also make a comparative analysis of the methods used by other correctional systems to calculate this rate. We will analyse five current processes in detention security and prison regime and provide recommendations to improve them. Hundreds of inmates will be qualified in the pilot correctional centres in order to increase their employability. As well, inmates, belonging to both Roma and other groups at risk of social exclusion, will participate in awareness-raising events on cultural diversity and will be involved in the meetings with representatives of the institutions that can be contacted after release to support their desistance process.
Improving human resources processes and prison school infrastructure
We will develop the infrastructure of the National School for Training Prison Staff, in order to improve educational processes. Also, we aim to perform an organisational diagnosis and a study on the professional risks of prison and probation services. We will redefine the recruitment and selection processes of prison and probation staff and the annual assessment tools will be improved. A consistent component will aim at skills development methods and human resources staffing policies where prison and probation staff and other specialists will be trained in various areas: motivational programme, prevention and mitigation of occupational stress, coaching, mentoring, skills development in managing people with mental disorders, emotional management, enforcement of community measures and sanctions, management and leadership, providing social care support to convicted persons, as well as identifying the cultural diversity of vulnerable persons, including Roma and other groups at risk of social exclusion and advising these persons.
Optimising communication in correctional service
Internal and external communication is crucial for both prison and probation services. For improving these processes we will assess the internal and external communication tools used by the prison and probation services and a new communication strategy draft and the corresponding action plan will be drafted for the probation system. Both prison and probation employees will be trained in public communication.
Improving the interventions and working conditions of the probation services
A consistent area of the project with a budget allocation of more than 5 mil euros is allocated solely to probation services. We envisage to better perform unpaid work and we will set up four local steering committees for this purpose and the cooperation mechanisms between the probation services, central and local authorities and the civil society to support the social reintegration of convicted persons, centred on Roma and other groups at risk of social exclusion will be promoted by organizing round tables and other types of events. At the same time, we are planning to improve the evaluation and inspection processes of the probation activity to better perform our services. The risk assessment – SERN – will be upgraded with the support of our colleagues from Correctional Services Canada. We have an ambitious aim to develop various intervention programmes for specific categories of persons at risk of social exclusion, including Roma, which are under probation service supervision. Last, but not less important we have allocated an important budget to improve the working conditions and offices in 28 probation locations and provide all the 42 probation services and the National Probation Directorate headquarters with equipment and supplies such as IT, furniture, cars for ensuring proper functioning of the probation system as a whole.
By implementing all these strategic actions, in 2024 the prison and probation services in Romania, the overall performance of the Romanian prison and probation systems will be improved, addressing existing issues at all levels, with a view to offering an integrated approach to the social reinsertion of convicted persons.
To learn more about the project click here.