The Last Working Conference of the EU-founded project “Prisons of the future” took place in The Hague last week 2-4 March of 2016. Delegates from 24 different countries all over Europe attended the Conference and participated exchanging ideas and contributing to discussions on different matters with the main objective of developing a toolkit of innovative (non) prison options aimed to be produced as one of the results of the project.
It was a 1-day and a half conference and the programme combined plenary sessions and workshops in a world cafe setting. The formal opening of the event was done by the Director of the Division Prison System and Immigration Detention from the Netherlands Ms Angeline van Dijk and the Legal Officer from the European Commission, DG Justice and Consumers Ms Jesca Beneder. After, Ms Cisca Joldersma project manager Prisons of the Future took the floor to introduce the project itself, the content and the aims of it.
The key note speeches in the morning were done by Mr Rob Canton, Professor in Community and Criminal Justice at De Montfort University who reflected on two main key questions: Why punish? Why prison? In his own words he also said that: “if we wish to make a difference to the prisons of the future, we need a vision of what they ought to be like…and an appreciation of the influences that may resist or support our efforts to accomplish change”. After, Ms Yvonne Jewkes, research professor in Criminology from University of Brighton talked about the architecture of the prisons of the future emphasising that in future prisons designs the architecture needs to be based on hope, trust and empathy and that open and green spaces with daylight and intimacy have to be integrated in order to promote care, health and make spaces positive for treatments.
Besides the key note speeches short presentations of participating teams Prisons of the Future were also made, the project partners who introduced their recent developings and their views on the future were the Prison (and Probation) Services of: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as the CEP.
The afternoon of the first conference day was reserved for 5 workshops in a world cafe setting. The main topics discussed in the workshops were:
Workshop 1 – Alternative sanctions: what are promising alternative sanctions and how to compose new combinations of alternatives with prison sentences?
Workshop 2 – New prisons concepts: what new prison concepts are to be invented, relating to architectural design and prison climate?
Workshop 3 – Perspective of offenders and/or citizens: how to deal effectively with ‘pains of imprisonment’ and ‘pains of criminality?
Workshop 4 – Abolishing prisons as a last resort: is it desirable that young offenders, addicts, mentally regarded or psychotic offenders end up in prison? What kind of alternative time-out facilities and preventive protective environments can be created?
Workshop 5 – Professional development: how to further develop professional development of prison & probation service?
People actively participated in the workshops and time was too short to completely finish all discussions before moving to the following workshop. All the contributions will be taken into account to produce the final conclusions of the project.
The next day started with a plenary speech of the Director General Belgian Prison Service Mr Hans Meurisse who talked mainly about the economic business model of the prisons in relation to the future.
After, the day before workshops were picked up in parallel so each participant chose only one workshop to attend and to discuss more in a deepening way the relevant topic.
The second to last plenary speech of the Conference was from Ms Cisca Joldersma who presented the general lines of the preliminary project report. And the last speeches were from Ms Irene Droogleever Fortuyn, Director Ketter & Co and Ms Laura Ferriere, The White Building project; Collectie Veenhuizen who introduced the public the white building project from a social design perspective and they also talked about their reflections of the day workshops and plenary.
For those who missed it, here you can download all the presentations and materials.
A summary of the final conference can be downloaded here