Inmates social reinsertion through prison staff development and the enhancement of prison work practices in European prisons.
“ECOPRIS” experience is about engaging and empowering prison staff to transform and enhance prison work. This project was developed by one consortium of prison administrations, private research and consulting organisations and EuroPris under transnational Erasmus+ (E+) programme initiative.
The project is now coming to an end. Read about the project and the outputs here.
In 2014 the Portuguese E+ National Agency funded the “ECOPRIS – Ecological Economics in Prison Work Administration” with 342,225.00€, giving 36 months for the development and piloting of innovation in prison work focus on adult education. The project was officially closed on the 31st of August but definitely it was not the end of what has produced and become. Of course at the end of every project it is important to ensure outputs will be robust and continuously waving outcomes; a challenge that never ends.
Led by BSAFE LAB – Law Enforcement, Justice, and Public Safety Research and Technology Transfer Laboratory, from the University of Beira Interior (Portugal), ECOPRIS joins together the prison service directorates of Romania, Turkey Portugal and Belgium (as associated partners); further partners include IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), CPIP – Center for Promoting Lifelong Learning (Romania), West University of Timisoara (Romania) and EuroPris – The European Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services (Netherlands and Belgium).
ECOPRIS project developed a set of intellectual outputs 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.
The main focus is all about employability in the sense that offender’s reintegration into the labour market starts in prison work and prison provided opportunities. “Employment is known to be a key factor in helping to reduce re-offending. Research confirms that this social reintegration is directly linked to re-entry into the labour market and prison workshops aim to fulfil a key role in providing and maintaining essential work habits (ExOCoP Policy Forum Berlin (2012); Allan and Steffensmeier (1989); Uggen’s (2000); Visher, Christy, Sara Debus and Jennifer Yahner(2008); Latessa, Edward (2012)).
Furthermore, prison work is also often used – even if unstructured – as a resource generator for the prison system. Regardless of these most important functions, prison work and industries are structured in order to obtain the following objectives (Roca & Aliaga, 2007):
Provide basic working habits and useful skills allowing prisoners to compete on an equal footing in the employment market outside
Provide financial self-sufficiency during incarceration for those inmates who have no other legal means of subsistence, thereby covering secondary needs (primary needs being already covered by the prison administration) of food, clothing and hygiene.
Encourage the inmate to face up to his or her financial obligations, such as paying the civil liabilities deriving from their crimes, the obligations imposed as part of the sentence or penalties, contributing to family finances or fostering an understanding of the importance of saving.
The intellectual outputs piloting was done in three countries: Portugal, Romania and Turkey, involving more than 42 prison professionals from 12 prisons, not only exchanging but also self-evaluating competences development and delivering work-based training delivering more than 12 new prison work business plans.
Some main intellectual outputs created under ECOPRIS, such as: 1. Prison work comparison framework; 2. Prison work competences self-assessment tool and 3. Prison work training, providing to readers the opportunity to get acquainted not only with the produced output; theory, methodology and how they work, but also get information about the piloting results and impacts and prospect future endeavour to tackle emerging trends and challenges. These tools enhance prison services capacity building and benchmarking in the field of prison work. Thus producing the outcome of more prison work opportunities and increase resources to improve education, work and conditions inside prisons, but above all contribute to reduce re-offending.
ECOPRIS intellectual outputs propose an integrated approach to enable prison work increase in European prisons, being fully aligned with inclusion and penitentiary treatment international policy guidelines and Council of Europe recommendations.