Interview with new CEP member: Lithuanian Probation Service
In recent weeks, CEP has interviewed representatives of the new member organisations that joined CEP at the beginning of 2023. In these interviews, the new member organisations will share information on why they decided to become members, how they would like to contribute to the development of CEP, and many more. Enjoy reading!
Not long ago the Lithuanian Probation Service (LPS) became an independent institution acting directly under the Ministry of Justice. It gained its status on the 1st of July 2022 when the Act of the Reorganization of the Penitentiary system in Lithuania came into force. At the moment there are two equal institutions (Lithuanian Probation Service and Lithuanian Prison Service) in the penitentiary system acting under the Ministry of Justice which means that there is no subordination left between both institutions. The process of resocialization after the imprisonment (or instead of it) has since then been taken care of more effectively.
Why did your organization decide to join CEP?
Since the 1st of February 2022 the Chief specialist of International Affairs, Mr. Žilvinas Miliauskas has joined our team and his idea was to become an active part European Probation society. I, as a Director of the Service, always wanted to act beyond the borders of Lithuania, and this idea was directly correlating with my point of view. So naturally, we agreed on it and Žilvinas got the green light to act. After a couple of meetings with the current Secretary General Ms. Jana Špero and former Board member of CEP Mr. Imants Jurevičius, we decided to apply for full membership. It didn’t take long for us to get accepted and at the moment we are a member of the European Probation Family. We have become an active part of the international confederation and we firmly believe that both sides will benefit from this union.
How would you like to contribute to the development of CEP, its project, actions and work programme?
First of all, we are very glad that CEP recognizes us as a valuable part of its field of action. And we will be more than glad to be a part of each initiative CEP will show in the future. In my state of mind, each cog of the mechanism has to do its part so that the machine would work properly, so we will try to participate in every initiative of CEP as much as we can. On the other hand, we are facing a lot of issues on our own within the borders and we’re always looking for good practices in other countries that we could adopt in Lithuania. Having all this in mind, I see a lot of potential in co-operating between the countries directly, presenting active issues, and participating in worldwide discussions seeking answers. And I believe that being an active part of the CEP will let us reach individual and common goals in improving the system of Probation all over the world.
What are the main priorities, topics, or themes (eg. mental health, alternatives to detention, radicalisation and violent extremism, gender equality, caseload/workload, etc.) you would like CEP to open/address more frequently, and how would you like to use your knowledge to support and participate in developing its actions and work programme?
Main topics for us at the moment are these: a) how to effectively evaluate and manage the workload for our officers and in what direction we should train them to reach this goal; b) alternative sanctions and ways to implement them more effectively in Lithuania (at the moment we’re preparing a Round table discussion in Lithuania on this topic, because not all of the Courts and Prosecutor Offices understand the message that Probation Service is sending to them); c) evaluation of the effectiveness of the Behavior Changing Programs (at the moment in our Service there are no tools to measure the outcomes of the programs and if the programs are effective), this issue really makes us struggle and doesn’t let us move on as effectively as we want to; d) IT implementation in everyday work (digital cases, issues co-operating with other institutions through the IT solutions, new directions in IT sector and so on; e) the more effective work with crime victims (at the moment we are focusing more on the offenders´ side leaving the victims outside the circle of action, and this has to change – the sooner, the better -, so we are trying to focus more on co-operation with NGOs, mediation and other measures in order to strengthen the work methods with victim side of the crime). We would be more than glad to share our experience openly in these (and not only in these) areas during the face-to-face and online meetings (or create agendas on these topics, or maybe even initiate them).
Why do you think it is so important to promote alternative sanctions and measures and what is the state of play in your country in this regard?
It is very important to promote alternative sanctions simply because it helps all of us to do our jobs more effectively: the fewer prison system will have clients, the more effectively the probation system will be able to do its job. At the moment Lithuania suffers because alternative sanctions are left behind for the sentences of imprisonment. Our prisons aren’t able to work properly in the field of resocialization, because the number of prisoners is still high and the number of officers has not changed for years. So this is the area where probation should shine. This year in Lithuania we’re organizing a couple of round table discussions with Norwegian partners and all of our institutions on the issue of implementation of alternative sanctions. We understand that probation should be the flagman in this area and we’re trying to push it as hard as we can.
Romas Ostanavicius (Director of the Lithuanian Probation Service)
Zilvinas Miliauskas (Chief specialist of International Affairs)