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