Update 15th March 2017

EcoprisThe first short-term joint staff training “Prison work administration” was transnational training event focused on knowledge, experiences and practice exchange. This event took place at hotel Nora Prestige from Timisoara-Romania, between 27.02.2017-3.03.2017 and was hosted by Timisoara Prison. The training was focused on prison industries and green economy, case studies and visits to Timisoara prison’s workplaces.
The event was attended by 35 prison employees from Turkish, Romanian and Portuguese prisons and one expert from Qualify Just – IT Solutions and Consultancy Lda, Portugal. During the week they attended at seminars, workshops and visits. The trainers were provided by project partners West University from Timisoara, Centre for Lifelong Learning Promotion Timisoara and Timisoara Prison.
The training program includes:

  • presentations about key concepts about prison work, prison industries, green economy, management, marketing and business plan;
  • presentations about prison work legislation, types and statistics in Romania, Turkey and Portugal;
  • games for building community of practices;
  • exercises to developing marketing, management and communication skills;
  • discussions for changing experiences;
  • brainstorming to identify innovative pilot actions with inmates and business plan ideas;
  • debate with inmates about importance of prison work in their reintegration into society;
  • study cases analyses;
  • visits at Timisoara Prison’s workshops and farm;
  • visit at factory where the inmates were working;

This training allowed all participants to observe other prison staff difficulties and constraints, and their solutions for common problems identified about prison work and reintegration of inmates in work, which encouraged knowledge and practice exchange, effectively achieving the objective of establishing a community of practice, which we hope that will be sustainable.

Update 15th of July 2015:

ECOPRISOn 22 & 23 June the second project team (Portugal, Romania, Turkey, EuroPris) meeting took place in Ankara, Turkey. In the first months the project worked on the development of a comparative analysis for prison work models. This tool will give an overview of how prison work is organized in different countries and provides for some cases of success and failure. We would like to invite European Prison Administrations to support this tool (see example below) with your experiences by completing this template. Also, it would be helpful if you can provide EuroPris with contact details of an expert that can be approached for questions about prison work in your country.

Another part of the meeting was a visit to the prison work workshops of the Sincan open prison, that is part of a prison complex built in 2000 and comprising of 8 prisons (including female, juvenile, high security) with 6500 detainees. 640 prisoners are In the open prison and almost all of them are working in the production of furniture, textiles, agricultural products and a kitchen that has to cater for 9000 persons daily.

The ECOPRIS project holds in its core objectives to prepare prison staff to create and manage “prison work”; to provide opportunities for inmates’ skills development; and also to increase the generation of own funds to be allocated to the fulfilment of prisons’ mission. Within this scope one of the key outputs focus on challenging the following question:

How is prison work organized in European prison systems?

This is one of the main questions that ECOPRIS project addresses under output 1 – Prison work models critical review. We started in December 2014 by gathering and reviewing EU prison models and programs, which resulted in a prison work comparison framework proposal.

The framework was then pre-tested by core partners; Portuguese, Turkish and Romanian prison services; and the first associated partner Belgian prison service. The pre-test sustained the final prison work framework structure in April 2015.

The next step will be to collect from each country 4 successful prison work models (best practices) and 4 unsuccessful models using the validated framework. The 3 most promising practices will be inserted in the “Training Comparison Framework Catalogue” to be delivered by the end of August.

The prison work comparative framework establishes a comparison in terms of five major dimensions: (1) Concepts, scope and modalities; (2) Management & structure; (3) Market; (4) Marketing & communication and (5) Labour Reintegration, divided into different components and indicators as table 1 shows.

Dimensions Sub-dimensions Indicators
Concepts, scope & modalities Prison work concept What, whom, where, how and what for
Legal enforceability Enforceability of prison work; Possibility of volunteering
Specific legal provisions Specific laws and regulations that regulate prison wok
Prison work or special categories of inmates Existing law or rules for special categories like minors, woman, inmates with disabilities
Competent authority
Management & structure

Prison work structure


Existence of prison work promotion team; Identification of main business sectors; Existing sustainable business concepts; Existing internal training projects; Setting up production facilities; Identification of potential business partners; communication with chambers of commerce; connection of prison work with VET; Existing training for promotion team
Organization of prison work Place of workshops (inside/outside); security restrictions
Occupational health and safety measures Training in health and safety issues; specific regulations
Type of management Public, private or mixed
Governing body
Selection of workers Selection process; responsible body for selection
Criteria for selection
Limits on access to workplace opportunities
Type of employment relationship
Employment rate
Working hours Legal length of prison work; rights to holidays and days off
Average number of hours worked per week
Basis for pay Enforceability of payment; calculation process; application of bonuses
Payment process Process of pay availability for the inmates; Distribution of income; deductions for other costs
Minimum and average salary
Social and other benefits Existing social, health, judicial or other benefits for prison workers
Market Supply/demand orientation
Type of production
Means of production Responsible body for providing materials and equipment
Quality of the product Quality standards applied
Type of clients Pubic, private or mixed
Type of partnerships Existing partnerships and type of agreement
Production capacity Maximum output; annual income from prison work
Marketing & Communication Customer relations Suitability of products to customer needs
Promotion techniques
Market research Existing market research strategies or practices
Social responsibility strategy
External partnerships Partnerships with external contractors
Commercialization of prison products Legislation; Management process; Responsible person/body
Labour Reintegration Prior training Prior assessment of workers; prior training to prison work; on-the-job training
Supervision of work On-going monitoring of prison workers’ development; existing parameters to assess the competence levels of inmates pre- and post-employment in prison workshops
Inmate’s transition to labour market Services in place that prepare inmates’ transition to labour market
Average of ex-inmates employed after release
Job market Existing job markets for inmates’ transition to labour market
Communication with business Strategies or plans for communication with business within the prison system

Some key preliminary findings

  • All prison services consider three types of working activities: (1) household work; (2) workshops for own production; and (3) workshops for external production.
  • However, in 2 countries prison work is only possible inside, while in other countries prison work is possible inside and outside prison facilities.
  • Differences exist concerning volunteering: while Romania foresees this as a type of prison work, most countries does not regard it as a prison working activity, although Portugal and Turkey allow for it to happen.
  • In all countries, prison work is voluntary and payment is obligatory. Nonetheless, differences exist in how the payment is calculated and how it is made available for inmates – the complexity requires a more detailed analysis.
  • Regarding type of management, three countries allow for a public and a mixed management, while only admit public. The same happens with clients.
  • Figure 1 in right shows that the prison work rate varies between 20 to 45% of the prison population. Although in Belgium case the figure includes inmates engaged in Vocational Educational Training (VET) since it is equivalent to labour.
  • Regarding the “market” dimension of prison work, countries present parity points in what concerns type of production: all refer agriculture, metal works and other labour-intensive productions as main business sectors. Furthermore, all countries indicate that a partnership between prisons and clients are not applied and in most cases is no official quality standard prison work products.
  • The findings suggest points of difference at the “marketing and communication” level, where, for example, Belgium is the only country that presents a commercial staff with sales-oriented training that is dedicated to the promotion of prison work products and for customer relations. On the other hand, all countries refer the inexistence of market research or market prospecting.
  • Lastly, in what concerns “Labour Reintegration”, all prison services lack the information about the average number of inmates who get employed after release. Moreover, Portugal and Belgium provide VET training for detainees.

If you want to participate in this prison work comparative study, please complete our online survey about prison work models and practices in your country.

Project Update 15th of May 2015:

Gathering in its consortia Romanian, Portuguese, Turkish, very recently Belgium partners and Europris (representing Prison Services across Europe), ECOPRIS (Ecological Economics in Prison Work Administration) project intends to prepare prison staff to develop and manage “prison work”; to provide opportunities for inmates’ skills development; and also to increase the generation of own funds to be allocated to the fulfilment of prison’s mission.

ECOPRIS emphasizes transversal targeted skills: management, entrepreneurship, prison work and industries awareness, ecology, marketing, communication, ICT, teamwork and integrated reintegration, as core enablers to staff engagement in prison work sustainable development.

The project team started their work in December 2014 with the initial development of the first output Prison work models critical review. The outcome will be a framework to support existent prison work models in prison systems (national and international) comparison and analysis to facilitate practices and knowledge exchange.

As shown in the figure below, initially we developed a Prison work comparison framework proposal and filling instructions, after gathering and reviewing EU prison models and programs in project targeted skills. The framework was then pretested by the Turkish, Romanian, and Portuguese and, as said before, more recently, Belgium, prison administrations by identifying one prison work practice. After reviewing the feedback from all of the partners, we delivered a final prison work framework structure in April 2015.

At this stage, the Romanian, Turkish and Portuguese prison services (with the support of the other partners) are further completing the framework capturing a more comprehensive picture of its national prison work models. The following steps will be to work on a comparison synthesis using the national and transnational information; use the prison work practices to prepare staff skills trainings; and select the most promising ones to be inserted in a catalogue.

Foreseen to be concluded in the next month, the prison work models critical review will establish a comparison in terms of structured in five major dimensions: (1) Concepts, scope and modalities; (2) Management & structure; (3) Market; (4) Marketing & communication and (5) Labour Reintegration.

If you want to learn more about our project, please get in touch with Tiago Leitão, IPS – Innovative Prison Systems,

IPS Team, Pedro Neves, Susana Reis and Tiago Leitão.

[1] Belgian Prison Services entered as associated partner due to Europris intermediation and sent most recently the Prison work framework filled with a prison work practice and feedback to improve it

Tecorpis.logohe objective of the ECOPRIS (Ecological Economics in Prison Work Administration) project is to raise the quality and efficiency of inmates integrated reintegration processes in the prison context through prison works. In this sense ECOPRIS priority is to prepare prison staff to create and manage “prison work” which can take advantage of prisons’ economic potential; to provide opportunities for inmates’ skills development; and to increase the generation of own funds that can be allocated to the fulfilment of prisons mission.

The project is based on the concept of ecological economics and on the ecological model of social work. Ecological economics is related to the question of economic activities sustainability with scarce resources and the need to reduce the throughput, which is achievable by enhancing the productivity of the resources in hand. On the same line, the ecological model of social work looks for alternative answers to the reintegration process, mobilizing the scarce resources at hand.

Three key ideas are the basis for ECOPRIS:

  • Development of prison staff competencies through a work-based training course to better understand and deal with prison and inmates “prison work administration” related complex activities;
  • Increase prison systems staff skills to create and manage productive activities, internalized or in partnership with private or civil society organisations, to reinforce offenders labour market re-entry integrated strategies;
  • Increase prison system’s capacity to generate financial resources and to improve offenders’ reintegration activities

The ECOPRIS Project promotes open and flexible learning, virtual mobility and other innovative learning methods, fostering the development of entrepreneurial skills and improvement of the capacities of organisations in the areas of inclusion of inmates.

This project gathers in its consortia Prison Administrations from different countries, universities, training organizations and private companies, aiming to develop a work-based training courses addressing prison work initiatives and management skills, namely: prison work and industries awareness; marketing, management, innovation in public correctional organisations, entrepreneurship, communication, ICT and teamwork. The course will be complemented by the development of pilot actions that will create two teams, in one or two prisons per country, supported by: knowledge exchange with ICT platforms; the establishment of a community of practices/knowledge; short-term transnational training events and other events with the goal of setting at least one prison work initiative in each participating prison.

Project specific goals:

  1. Create 1 joint curricula: work-based VET training courses to promote inmates reintegration throughout prison work initiatives, by developing staff management skills, namely: prison work and industries awareness, marketing, management, innovation, entrepreneurship, communication, ICT , ecological economics and teamwork in prison staff;
  2. Train 36 prison staff, in 3 countries, in multidisciplinary teams of 6 members (2 per country), with 3 short-term transnational training events, to develop and implement innovative „prison work” actions engaging at least 20 inmates per country;
  3. Improve community and businesses participation in staff and inmates labour reintegration actions by engaging key stakeholders and experts in national seminars, validation workshops, transnational events and involvement in trainings’ pilot actions

Upcoming events

National seminars: Romania (November 2016)

International seminar: Portugal (July 2017)

Validation workshops:

Romania, Turkey and Portugal (April/May 2016)

Romania, Turkey and Portugal (April/May 2017)

Leading partner: The University of Beira Interior (UBI)

Project partners: The University of Beira Interior (UBI), Penitenciarul Timisoara, The Center for promoting lifelong learning – CPIP, Qualify Just – IT Solutions and Consultancy Lda,West University of Timișoara, General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses (Turkey), European Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services (EuroPris), DGRSP – General Directorate of Probation and Prison Services (Portugal)

Duration: 01.09.2014 – 31.08.2017


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