In 2022, the EuroPris Prison Achievement Award was awarded to the “Innovation lab”; a unique collaboration between Veenhuizen prison in the Netherlands and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen. In 2018, researchers from Hanze University of Applied Sciences and prison staff developed a so-called “innovation lab”. This innovation lab is a place where students, prison staff, prisoners, and researchers meet. Together they engage in a co-creation process to implement the family approach programme, which aimed at supporting families experiencing paternal imprisonment. Through this collaboration, Veenhuizen prison innovates in terms of prison culture and child-focused prison practice. In this news item, Veenhuizen prison provides an update on the current activities of this innovation lab.
Website: www.gezinsbenadering.nl (The website will be launched in January 2023).
The team of the innovation lab and prison professionals have developed a website aimed at spreading best practices regarding child-focused work in Dutch prisons. On this website, prison professionals can find a wide range of tools, ranging from theoretical models and peer-reviewed scientific articles to also practical tools which can directly be implemented in prisons to support families experiencing parental imprisonment. The website is in Dutch.
Currently, they are conducting three research projects from within the innovation lab. First, they are conducting a study in which they examine fathers’ experiences of fathering from prison, and compare fathers who participate in the family approach programme in Veenhuizen prisons to fathers who do not participate in the programme. Second, they are currently interviewing mothers/caregivers of families and children experiencing paternal imprisonment. Third, they are conducting interviews with prison staff who are involved in the family approach in Veenhuizen prison. Together, these studies provide an improved understanding of families’ experiences of parental imprisonment, and provide relevant insights for promoting child-focused prison practice across the Netherlands and Europe.
Outreach and impact
Various steps are taken to ensure that their project results reach the right audience. One of the key components is their soon-to-be-launched website. Furthermore, they provide various presentations for both professional and scientific audiences. Two researchers of their team recently gave a presentation to the prison directory board and the divisional management to disseminate research results and spread awareness of the possibilities for child-focused prison practice in the Netherlands. Furthermore, they presented their research results at the European Society for Criminology conference. In January, an article in an international peer-reviewed journal will be published on the needs of imprisoned fathers. Last, they will soon release a research report on young adult fathers in prison.
Involvement of students of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences
A key feature of the innovation lab is the involvement of students in their projects. Students support data collection and analysis, and also develop practical tools for families experiencing parental imprisonment and for prison staff to promote child-focused prison practice. This semester, 21 students are affiliated with the innovation lab. They have developed and implemented training booklets and helped to develop a low-key walk-in space in prison for fathers. They are currently interviewing prison professionals, mothers/caregivers, and children experiencing paternal imprisonment to further develop the family approach in Veenhuizen prison. Students are further involved in starting up a new family wing in a different location of Veenhuizen prison (Norgerhaven). Students are further carrying out an internationally oriented comparative project, in which they collect and compare good practices regarding child-focused prison practice, involving Parc prison (Wales), Cork prison (Ireland), Enner Mark prison (Denmark) and Veenhuizen prison (Netherlands). A high percentage of students who contributed last year has been promoted to junior position within prisons in the north of the Netherlands so that the flow of well-trained staff continues.
They would like to use this opportunity to call to expand this approach to other countries. If you are interested to cooperate with them, do not hesitate and contact Petrick Glasberger, the project manager, via this email address:
Petrick Glasbergen [email protected]
Project Leader at IWP Gezinsbenadering in Penitentiaire Inrichtingen en IWP Forensische Multiproblematiek, Hanzehogeschool Groningen.
Click here to read an article called “Hanze in jail: a peek behind bars” where they describe more about the Innovation Lab.