From national practices to European guidelines: interesting initiatives in prisons management

Marie Crétenot

The European Prison Observatory (EPO) was launched in Rome in February 2013 and operates in 8 countries (France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Spain). Through quantitative and qualitative analysis, the EPO monitors and analyses the present conditions of the different national prison systems and the related systems of alternatives to detention in Europe, comparing these conditions to the international norms and standards relevant for the protections of inmates’ fundamental rights, particularly the European Prison Rules (EPR) of the Council of Europe.
The analysis of the conditions of detention in the countries where the EPO operates highlights the fact
that none of those countries are actually applying the Council of Europe’s philosophy, or are respecting many of its recommendations. However, this study revealed several interesting initiatives in accordance with the Council of Europe philosophy that could be an inspiration for other countries.
The most interesting ones are presented below in specific chapters: they represent experiments that have been implemented on a systemic basis and have been submitted to some sort of evaluation, and which can therefore be characterized as “good practices”. In some cases, the philosophy was not fully respected, but one or several countries had nevertheless developed measures or initiatives that still remain interesting and need to be highlighted. These countries’ specificities are pointed out in the general introduction of each chapter (with a mention of the country in bold) more

Detention conditions in the European Union

The main objective of the project is to discuss the problems of prison administration and develop prison management; sensitize penitentiary systems to human rights issues; suggesting mechanisms to monitor prison conditions effectively and ensure accountability in respect of violation of human rig hts. For that reasons the research wants to promote the collection of data on prisons in Europe. The project wants to study, through quantitative and qualitative analysis, the present condition of the national prison systems and the related systems of alternatives to detention in Europe, underlining their peculiarities and weakness.

The data collected through various research methodologies (quantitative and qualitative ) will be placed in relation with the minimum standards defined at European level (i.e. t he Recommendation (2006)2 ) and the guidelines about criminal treatment elaborated by the competent institutions. The research will contribute to the homogenization of data, the creation of a database and its constant updating. Moreover the possibility of monitoring the prison conditions will permit a constant control on the implementation of the European Recommendations, and it will be an useful instrument for the policy makers. The project, then, will proceed with the identification and dissemination of the 'good practices' existing in the different countries. In addition this research aim to the promotion of new forms of management and shared control of the prison systems, in order to improve the overall conditions of detention within the European Union, and to enforce the multilateral cooperation in the field of detention, not only between states but also between the different institutions, organizations and associations involved in the monitoring process. The consolidation of a European network to monitor the detention conditions will enhance the knowledge on each countries’ prisons systems.

Read more: Detention conditions in the European Union

Page 2 of 2