5th March 2011
Eurochips’ Board member Kate Philbrick represented the Eurochips Network as external expert at the EXOCoP workshop Family relationship & Resettlement, on the rehabilitation of offenders which took place in Ljubljana from March 1-2 2011 and shares her experiences from the event.
It was a privilege to represent Eurochips as an external expert at the EXOCoP workshop on the rehabilitation of offenders in Llublijana from March 1-2. After giving the Eurochips perspective, we heard from partners in Slovenia, Romania, Hungary, Northern Ireland and England how they deal with different aspects of family support. In the group session that followed after we jointly developed some recommendations which will be taken to a larger EXOCoP meeting in Berlin in 2012.
We focused on the needs of children and families and how child and family support can best be offered. We recognised that different levels of crime, imprisonment rates, approaches to prison and family cultures in different countries make comparisons and synthesised recommendations difficult. These differences affect what it is like to serve a prison sentence for the prisoner, their family and their child(ren).
The highlight of the journey was a visit to the only women’s prison in Slovenia, which has 40 inmates. The small numbers mean that relationships can be developed between all in the establishment: the governor seemed to be known, respected and liked by both staff and inmates who also appeared to get along well together. The women were preparing for a World Women’s day fashion show and staff and prisoners’ were keen to show the visitors what they had fabricated. The system also allows time for all prisoners to be consulted on the goals for their sentence. Home leave is available to over half the prisoners from the start of their sentence and the prison reported no absconding on home leave over the past year. This seemed a useful way of preserving child parent relationships from the start; the hugely larger scale of imprisonment in other countries makes this seem a utopian and not immediately attainable ideal!
The Ex-Offender Community of Practice (EXOCoP) tasks is the development and extension of a European learning network focused on the exchange, transfer and standardisation of expertise (knowledge, experiences, concepts, forms of organisations etc) amongst the participating Member States. The aim is the development of a joint strategy to improve the conditions necessary for the successful reintegration of ex-offenders at regional, national and European level.
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