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Welcome to the EuroPris Knowledge Management System. The table below shows questions and responses from European National Agencies. Select a question for more information or use the filters on the left to narrow down questions based on Agency or Category.
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Introduction: Article 139.1 of the Penal Sanctions Enforcement Code of the Republic of Lithuania sets forth that inmates’ collective councils may be established in correctional institutions, prisons excluded, which would facilitate the penitentiary administration in the organization of social rehabilitation and would deal with the household issues of inmates. Article 139.2 of the Code states that inmates may set up public organizations in correctional institutions, prisons excluded, in compliance with the procedure established by law. The activities of the councils and public organizations must respect the interests of work, study, regime, security and social rehabilitation. Currently, 3 inmate public organizations operate in 2 correctional institutions of Lithuania. Based on the above, the Lithuanian Prison Department would like to find out about the related practice of the European prison systems.
Prisoners can access advice, literature and support services from various community based organisations who have a locus and remit for prisoner welfare during their period in custody and in their preparation for release into the community.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
Every SPS establishment currently operates a Prisoner Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) in which prisoners can become involved to express a ‘user’s voice’ perspective on various aspects of service delivery within the prison environment. Other similar meetings can be known as ‘Forums’ or ‘Community Engagement Events’ and be preceded by terms such as ‘Catering’, ‘Canteen’, ‘Wages’, ‘Gym’ or ‘Technology’. Forums are generally conducted on a prison wide basis, as opposed to a PIAC, which is generally restricted to a hall (or a wing within a hall). The PIACs run in almost the same way throughout all establishments with a chair, (usually a member of the Senior Management Team or First Line Manager), a minute taker, and a number of prisoner representatives (who present the views of their peers as well as themselves). Representatives are appointed in various ways, ranging from self-selection, selection by peers, selection by staff or selection by a combination of staff and peers. Good practice in PIACs is predicated on prisoners playing lead roles, with SPS and contracted staff supporting such endeavour. In some establishments minutes are displayed upon prisoner notice boards within residential areas.
In Latvian legislation there isn’t a set order for allowing prisoners to organize public organizations in prisons.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
In imprisonment places prisoners have the right to submit spoken and/or written applications, complaints and suggestions to the specific officials, state institutions, public organizations.
In Austria there are inmates’ associations founded by inmates whose interest is for example to enhance the prisoners’ legal position or the conditions of release after imprisonment. However, Austrian law does not empower the members of these associations to act collectively in the name of all prisoners.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
The Austrian prison staff is also trained to be attentive towards individual needs of each prisoner. Prisoners are always free to speak and to express their wishes, needs and ideas. Of course not each of these wishes can be granted by the Austrian prison service. Prisoners have the right to address complaints directly to the direction of their prison and have access to appeal proceedings.
In Swedish prison law the following is established about Prisoners’ Council “A prisoner shall be given the opportunity of meeting with other prisoners in some suitable way to discuss matters of common interest to the prisoners (prisoners’ council). A prisoners’ council shall be given the opportunity of holding discussions in some suitable way with the management of the prison.”In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
The possibility for inmates to discuss issues in a coordinated manner that is of common interest for their stay in prison exists and are described in Swedish law. In practice, this means that inmates, usually in each prison department, meet and discuss issues that are important to them. It is customary for the inmates to appoint two or three inmates by vote who represent the group in discussions with the management of the prison. Prisoners’ Council shall primarily be held during leisure time. Prisoners’ Council may be held without the presence of staff, unless security can be jeopardized.
Yes. According to Imprisonment Act prisoners shall be provided with an opportunity to participate in the planning and arrangement of free time activities. Prisoners shall be provided with guidance and advice on recreational activities. Prisoners may participate in free time activities and spend free time together with other prisoners. Participation may be denied or restricted, if a prisoner for example disturbs free time activities or endangers prison order or prison safety and security may be denied the right to participate in a free time event. In prisons in Finland, the prisoners may be permitted to gather in the prison under the necessary supervision to deal with other common issues. The Prison fellowships are local associations whose activities vary from prison to prison depending on the activity and willingness of the prison population to influence things. The Fellowship includes representatives elected by the prisoners for communication between prison staff and the prisoners. A well-functioning fellowship improves the atmosphere of the prison. Permission to gather shall be granted by the director of the prison. According to the Associations Act, prisoners can form an association even if the prison director does not grant them permission to assemble. The fellowship’s' popularity has declined in the last time. The decline in activities is affected by the change in Finnish society, where participation in volunteering and association activities has decreased. This is apparently also reflected in the activities of the fellowships in prison. Members of the prison gang have also made the work of the fellowship more difficult.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
The prisoners are heard in other things as for free time activities, but there is not any mechanism for listening to opinion of in prisoners. For example, rehabilitation wards have meetings where prisoners can make suggestions for improving activities in prison.
The Law on the Enforcement of the Prison Sentence prescribes legal and judicial protection of the rights of prisoners and supervision of the work of correctional institutions, which does not include the possibility of associating prisoners to protect their own rights. In order to protect their rights, prisoners may also apply to the Ombudsman, the Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Committee on Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities of the Croatian Parliament and other competent bodies.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
Croatian Prison System promotes rehabilitation-oriented approach, so every inmate daily communicates with responsible official persons about any issue related to enforcement of their prison sentence and their individual program of rehabilitation/resocialization. There are also some formal mechanisms for presenting of /listening to the opinion of prisoners. Representatives of prisoners and are included in two types of commissions that are established by the director of the correctional institution, which provide proposals in particular segments of functioning of the prison institution. One is the Commission for design of prisoners’ menu – if applicable, representatives of prisoners of various religions may be included additionally due to dietary specifics of respective religion. Another is Commission for organisation of leisure time. Also, since 2017, in some correctional institutions, UZOR communities are introduced (in smaller institutions all prisoners are included in this type of enforcement of the prison sentence, while in bigger institutions usually one ward is organized in line with principles of UZOR). UZOR means IDEAL, but is also in Croatian language abbreviation from Success, Togetherness, Responsibility, Work. These communities represent specific organizational form of enforcement of the prison sentence, based on elements of therapeutic communities, that promotes development of the social skills, responsibility, activity, as well as a certain degree of autonomy, all of which is expected to boost successfulness of social reintegration. Members of UZOR communities have their president (elected prisoner), they have meetings every day and provide proposals concerning interior design, way of performing some activities (for example keeping tidiness of a ward) etc. Unrelated to UZOR, there are also mailboxes in several places in prisons where prisoners can leave their complaints, petitions, suggestions etc. (signed or anonymously).
Associations of citizens, churches, religious communities and other organisations that operate in compliance with the Act no. 83/1990 Coll. on the Association of Citizens as amended, can under conditions agreed with the particular prison facility participate in the (a) organisational, financial and material security of the education and cultural- edifying activity; (b) realisation of the edifying events on the legal, medical and other topics; (c) activity of the exit unit; (d) realisation of expert seminars and specialized preparation of staff. In this case, these are external organisations of persons outside the prison environment.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
In the minimum security prisons and in chosen units of the medium security prisons, the self-government of prisoners is established. This self-government helps to observe the House Rules, organise and secure the cultural-edifying activity, solve issues of security and protection of safety at work and it participates in the preparation of prisoners for the life after release. The self-government is elected in a ballot by the prisoners usually for one year. The self-government members inform other prisoners on their activity at least once a month. The self-government members meet the case manager or the open unit head at least once a month, which leaves a written record.
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Whilst there isn’t a specific provision for organisations in prison law this does feature under the expectations set out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) for assessing the treatment and conditions for those in custody. This is measured under the test of Respect and Prisoner Consultation (outlined below under Question 2).In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
Prisoner consultation is facilitated by prisoner forums within Northern Ireland Prison Service establishments. Below are indicators from expectations outlined by HMIP for prisoner consultation under the test of Respect. Respect Prisoner consultation 1. Prisoners are able to take an active role in influencing decisions about services, routines and facilities in the prison and in managing their own day- to-day life. The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it. • Prisoners are regularly consulted about prison life and given the opportunity to present any areas of grievance or dissatisfaction directly to managers. • Prisoners are able to raise issues or concerns for discussion. • Prisoners can challenge decisions appropriately and are confident that their views are taken seriously. • The selection of prisoners to take part in more formal consultation events or to represent the wider prisoner group is fair and transparent. • Prisoners are informed of the outcome of consultation and provided with justifiable reasons for any decision made. • Ongoing feedback mechanisms, for example food comments books, are readily available, regularly checked and responded to appropriately. The Northern Ireland Prison Service provides the following forms. Prisoner Forums are carried out in the following areas/categories: - Residential Forums– Chaired by the Unit Manager and Senior Officer of the area and takes place in all residential locations. - Equality and Diversity – Chaired the Deputy Governor and includes nominated representatives from throughout the prison. - Foreign National Forums – Chaired by the Unit Manager and Senior Officer optional attendance for all Foreign National Prisoners and where appropriate interpreters in attendance. - Food Forums – Chair by the Unit Manager and Senior Officer of the Kitchen and includes nominated representatives from throughout the prison. - L&S and Activities – Chaired by the Unit Manager, Head of Learning and Senior Officer including nominated representatives from throughout the prison. - Basic Regime Forum – Chaired by the Governing Governor and Deputy Governor individuals on basic regime are encouraged to attend. The chairs challenge and support these prisoners to change their behaviour, giving them advice and opportunities to behave well whilst providing regular and responsive consultation. - General Prison Forum – Chaired by the Functional Head, Deputy Governor and Governing Governor including nominated representatives from throughout the prison. Minutes from each forum are completed, including action points, and then made readily available to view by prisoners from the relevant areas. Forums are currently taking place in a restricted capacity due to Covid-19.
No, we do not have inmates' organisations in prisons.In what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
Some prisons have established a "Board of Prisoners", which allows the prisoners to present their opinions. It is up to the Prison Governor to decide whether the prison shall have such Board of not.
No organisation equivalent to a prisoner union currently exists in the UK although these are not banned by law. A number of prison interest groups exist such as the Prison Reform Trust and the Howard League for Penal Reform; all prisoners are able to communicate freely with these groupsIn what way is the position of inmates represented in prisons in your country? Is there any existing mechanism for presenting/ listening to the opinion of inmates in prisons? If yes, could you describe it in brief?
1. All prisons in the UK have local prisoner consultative committees which are chaired by senior staff members and are attended by prisoner representatives. The committees actively discuss the operation of and living conditions in the prisons. Prisoners are able to express their views on current and proposed regime practices and to put forward recommendations for improvement. 2. A comprehensive prisoner complaints system investigates prisoners’ issues with the aim of resolving them fairly and effectively at an early stage. 3. Prisoners are also able to raise concerns with the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. This is an independent body with the power to consider and deal with prisoner complaints that cannot be resolved by the prisoner complaints system. 4. All UK prisons have Independent Monitoring Boards whose members have unfettered access to all prisoners. Prisoners are able to raise matters of concern with the IMB members who can then make representations on their behalf to prison managers. 5. Surveys which measure the quality of prison life are regularly conducted in all UK prisons. Prisoners are able to speak confidentially with the survey staff and can raise concerns or put forward suggestions about the regimes in their prisons. 6. All UK prisons are regularly inspected by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. The inspections are preceded by prisoner surveys which are similar to (5) above and which aim to identify any areas of prisoner concern which can then be addressed by the subsequent inspection. 7. Prisoners have unrestricted and confidential access to lawyers and to Members of Parliament.