High number of imprisoned persons, prison overcrowding and long-term imprisonment prevents successful rehabilitation and increases re-offending. To promote rehabilitation and resettlement, the project developed new alternatives to imprisonment, including electronic monitoring, introduce a staff training system, advance legislative amendments, as well as provided a new specific program for juvenile offenders. The objectives of the project are to increase application of alternative methods to imprisonment and to develop the professional capacities of prison and probation officers. The project included workshops, seminars, training events, conferences and study visits to learn from the best practices in Europe. Electronic monitoring equipment purchased for 200 clients. The Norwegian Correctional Service contributed with expertise throughout the project implementation. The project has 7 partnerships, including three with Norway.
Summary of project results
Prior to defining electronic monitoring and before launching the programme in 2011 there were 6511 inmates in prisons in Latvia, which was the highest prison population rate in European Union. Latvia lacked possibilities to introduce changes and faced issues related to legislation, lack of resources, outdated infrastructure, and other challenges for introducing alternatives to prison. Also, Latvia had high number of prisoners serving full sentence without possibility to be conditionally released from prison. The main objective of project LV08-0001, and one of programme`s outputs was increasing the application of alternatives to imprisonment (incl. possible pilot project on electronic monitoring (EM)). EM system was established and launched in 2015 within the project, allowing successful introduction of EM as alternative to prison and consequently promoting reduction of number of inmates in prisons. This achievement was promoted by activities carried out in the project, including establishment of 8 complicated researches (target was 7) to provide successful basis for application of alternatives to prison, including research for providing application criteria for involvement in EM. Also, before developing and implementing the programme, there were no possibilities to provide regular and intense trainings on specific topics for State Probation Service staff in Latvia. According to European Prison Rules, prison staff should be properly trained both before entering into duty, as well as throughout their career. Project LV08-0001 promoters put an emphasis on achieving the target related to training events. In total there have been 148 training events, target was 72. The employees had opportunity to consult highly qualified mental health specialists and receive professional supervision, therefore increasing confidence. The project LV08-0001 enabled development of training topics related to application of alternatives to imprisonment. The 8 training topics elaborated included training topic for conversational skills employees, training on management of changes, training on work with persons with mental health disorders, training on EM as new alternative, training on protection of children rights, training on implementation of behavior correction programme for young people and training on good practices for working with children with delinquent behavior. The target value of 7 was exceeded as the lack of training in different areas was discovered.
Summary of bilateral results
In the project LV08-0001 7 partnership agreements with project partners were concluded. As establishment of electronic monitoring (EM) system in Latvia came as rather challenging aspect of the programme, without numerous consultations it would not be possible to gather the necessary materials and understanding for carrying out introduction and application of EM. The bilateral fund of project LV08-0001 contributed to project achievements, as the partnership activities were a major cornerstone for achieving the outputs of the programme – numerous trainings and consultation visits provided sustainable grounds for gaining necessary skills and knowledge for carrying out complicated activities of project LV08-0001. The explicit participatory nature of cooperation between State Probation Service and Oslo Probation Office and organization of many seminars, expert visits for exchanging knowledge and workshops for shared results provided State Probation Service officers with the necessary knowledge and sufficient understanding about EM. Numerous consultations with leading experts of Oslo Probation Office as well as with experts from Estonian Ministry of Justice covered increased knowledge on establishment of the correct EM model in Latvia and development of complicated procurement procedure. In cooperation with Norwegian Mediation Service there were 5 regional seminars organized for employees of State Probation Service and leading experts of project partners about interinstitutional cooperation in work with young offenders. In 2015 in collaboration with Norwegian Mediation Service trainings on topics such as restorative justice took place. In April 2016 together with the Confederation of European Probation (CEP) 10th EM conference was organized in Latvia, attended by 40 experts from Latvia and 170 experts from abroad. State Probation Service has also received international recognition from CEP, which gave commendations about the considerable work invested in the implementation of EM. Trainers from Norway Ila prison came to Latvia two times a year to provide trainings on specific topics. In cooperation with Norwegian Probation Office in March 2017 on spot consultations took place with about progress of implementation of EM and possibilities to expand the programme.