In recent weeks, CEP has interviewed individual members and representatives of the new member organisations that joined CEP at the beginning of 2024. In these interviews, the new member organisations or individual members will share why they decided to become members, how they would like to contribute to the development of CEP and many more. Enjoy reading!

The University of Justice (Akademia Wymiaru Sprawiedliwości) was created on 31 August 2018 by the Minister of Justice, by the Regulation of 20 July 2018 (OJ 2018, item 1461). The University of Justice is responsible for an extended range of activities, taking into account, in addition to training of prison service officers, training of future staff of judicial authorities and other public security services.

The primary purpose, of an organizational unit of the Prison Service, is to educate officers and employees of the Prison Service and civilians. The most important task of the University is to improve the Prison Service at each level of education, composed of social sciences, security sciences, legal sciences, sociological sciences, pedagogy and psychology.

The University merges both practical and scientific elements of the social rehabilitation and readaptation process. Our University prides itself on searching for new theoretical methods of work based on the latest achievements of social sciences and humanities.

From 2023, the University of Justice will provide theoretical education for candidates for probation officers. As part of this task, we have signed an agreement and have significant cooperation with the National Council of Probation Officers an organization that represents all probation officers in Poland and provides legal services to the Ministry of Justice.

The main goal of the University of Justice is to prepare staff for the prison system, and to train staff – both candidates for officers and managers. In addition to educating officers of the Prison Service, it is also important to educate the future staff of the judicial authority and other services to perform tasks in the field of public safety.

We are the only university subordinate to the Ministry of Justice.

Why did your organisation decide to join CEP? 

Based on Article 75(2) of the Law of July 27, 2001, on Court Curators, the responsibility for conducting curatorial training was entrusted to the University of Justice. The University of Justice is the first institution in Poland to provide comprehensive education for curatorial candidates in theoretical studies, both through on-site courses and through distance learning methods. The framework program for the curatorial application envisages conducting classes on 13 subjects, totalling 380 hours. This includes a 40-hour on-site session and 340 hours through an e-learning platform.

For the first time, the University of Justice offers curatorial candidates the opportunity to study theoretical aspects by participating in classes conducted by an experienced teaching staff. This faculty possesses specialized knowledge in various fields of law, as well as psychology, pedagogy, and curatorial methodology and practice.

A cooperation agreement has been signed between University of Justice and National Council of Curators: the aim of which is to cooperate in the field of specific tasks related to the optimization and effectiveness of the organization and the manner of conducting the curatorial training.

As part of the implementation of the Agreement, the scope of joint activities of the Parties includes in particular:

  • Mutual exchange of specialized written materials in the field of scientific and didactic-methodological literature as part of mutual scientific and didactic assistance;
  • Mutual exchange of specialized information, observations, and experiences within organized curatorial applications;
  • Participation in seminars, conferences, and scientific meetings organized by the Parties dedicated to the subject of curatorial applications.;
  • cooperation in the field of the possibility of implementing joint projects.

The team responsible for organizing and conducting curatorial applications at the University of Justice, in collaboration with the National Council of Curator, developed a draft program for theoretical curatorial training. After incorporating the Minister of Justice’s binding remarks, this program, now finalized as the curatorial application program, was submitted to the Presidents of the Court of Appeals.

How do you envision contributing to the development of CEP, its project, actions and work programme?

The penalty of restriction of liberty was introduced into the Polish justice system as early as 1969. Since then, it has changed significantly and to its full extent.

During these 55 years of the penal service, the Polish Probation Service has specialised in working with those sentenced to restriction of liberty consisting in unpaid, controlled performance of work for social purposes. In 2022 alone, Polish probation officers inspected the execution of more than 116,000 such punishments, and this number is growing every year, which on the one hand increases the number of Polish courts in adjudicating alternative punishments, and on the other hand, illustrates how important their use is in the modern world.

The Polish Probation Service can be a very good example of dynamic and effective enforcement of court decisions, which results from many years of experience and constant development of the system of enforcement of an alternative sentence sentence functioning in Poland. Thus, the Probation Service is able to effectively share its knowledge with other members of the CEP by presenting the tools and methods of working with convicts used in Poland. The international space is also an excellent base for exchanging experiences with partners implementing this type of punishment in their countries, on the one hand, as well as sharing knowledge with those institutions that have completed the implementation of alternative penalties and are currently only adapting it to the current trends.

Both the University of Justice and the Probation Service are also able to identify experts who will share their knowledge in working groups focused on solutions facilitating work with people sentenced to liberty sentences (their control, motivation, and social aspects). We believe that two-pronged activities (expert groups on the one hand, and the possibility of implementing – also pilot – solutions taken from international partners) are able not only to strengthen the position of Polish probation, but also to facilitate the implementation of new, humanistic forms of work with convicts.

What are the main priorities, topics, or themes 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?

The priority of the Polish probation service is to change the tasks performed by probation officers from typical control tasks to probationary tasks – working with the use of non-directive methods, using the resources of people on probation, taking into account their personal needs and the current needs of the society. The use of this methodology seems to be the only method of improving the social competence of people on probation in order to prevent them from returning to crime. In this context, it is particularly important to work with the resources of perpetrators of crimes and to look for ways to use their potential in order to prevent the recurrence of crime.

Polish probation officers have extensive experience in performing diagnostic tasks for courts and other criminal procedure bodies. Polish probation officers can also share their knowledge and experience in the field of execution of penalties and penal measures with the use of the electronic surveillance system and the execution of the penalty of restriction of liberty as a form of social work. The experience of Polish probation officers in working with juveniles who show symptoms of demoralization and commit less serious criminal acts cannot be overestimated. This experience is used in juvenile detention centres, where young people learn, among other things, how to use their free time properly, how to function in a group and how to live in accordance with the law. The activity of probation centres can be an interesting basis for the preventive activity of the justice system, and thus be a kind of international model.

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?

As of February 2024, the prison population in Poland is over 74,000 inmates, resulting in a prison population of over 89%. Some of the inmates are people who were sent to prison for crimes with a relatively low level of social harm. Thus, their punishments could be carried out outside the prison system – with the use of alternative punishments. Non-custodial sentences allow for the promotion of restorative justice, the idea of which is the actual reparation of socially incurred losses, and thus the actual responsibility of the convicted person for the committed act. The lack of isolation characteristic of incarceration in a penitentiary also gives the possibility of more effective social readaptation and easier involvement of the convict in it, which is the essence of rehabilitation.

Paradoxically, the use of alternative punishments also strengthens the impact of imprisonment, which gains the status of the most severe, and, thanks to the reduction of the prison population, also the inevitability and speed of its execution resulting from the lack of need to wait for a place in prison. Ultimately, the execution of an alternative penalty also means the implementation of the directive contained in Article 67 of the Polish Executive Penal Code, which states that “The execution of a custodial sentence is aimed at instilling in the convicted person the will to cooperate in shaping his socially desirable attitudes, in particular, the sense of responsibility and the need to comply with the legal order and thus refrain from reoffending.”

Serving an alternative sentence is also a cheaper solution than providing the convict with round-the-clock care resulting from the need to incarcerate him or her in a penitentiary, and at the same time allows the necessity to maintain or feed the inmate from the system.

Every year, Poland increases the number of alternative punishments, the core of which is community service and imprisonment in the electronic monitoring system. The exchange of international experience in this area and drawing good solutions from other organizations that are members of the CEP gives a real opportunity to build a positive image of the probation service and transfer responsibility from the penitentiary to the probation system.


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