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A New Initiative to Support Re-socialization of Offenders

On 1 February 2013, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) launched an initiative entitled Re-socialization of offenders in the EU: enhancing the role of the civil society (RE-SOC). Led by CSD with the financial support of the European Commission, it will be implemented jointly with Droit au Droit(Belgium), University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Dortmund (Germany), Observatory on the Penal System and Human Rights (Spain) and Law Institute (Lithuania).

The initiative aims at improving the situation in prisons and the re-socialization of offenders by exploring three distinct, yet closely related aspects:
• Promoting the broader use of alternatives to imprisonment by studying the scope of their application, examining the role of communities and NGOs in their enforcement and collecting best practices. By reviewing the application of alternative penalties across the legal systems of the participating Member States, the initiative will outline innovative sanctioning approaches that satisfy three basic criteria: re-socialization effect, active involvement of the society and potential to unburden the prison system.
• Improving the situation of specific groups of vulnerable inmates (e.g. foreigners, drug users, minorities, juvenile offenders) through identification of such groups, examination of their problems, and collection and exchange of best practices for their treatment. Being a key component of the overall custodial system, exploring the position of vulnerable inmates presupposes a review of various vulnerabilities within detention settings and the measures, addressing each of them. Again, the selection of best practices will be based on their re-socialization potential and the involvement of the community and NGOs.
• Designing an instrument for regular prison monitoring by using the available and accessible information and designing and piloting a set of indicators. The prison monitoring index will contribute to the further opening of the prisons to oversight by international mechanisms and civil society actors. It will strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to design and implement informed prison-related policies. If applied properly and backed up by relevant regulations and political will, the system can lead to improving detention conditions by pointing to the most crucial factors that need to be addressed.

To effectively communicate the initiative results to each of the target groups, different communication tools will be designed. The main deliverables will be published in six different languages, publications will be distributed as hard copies as well as online, information about the project will be communicated through the media, and a newsletter will be disseminated on a regular basis. The deliverables targeting a specialised audience (studies, handbooks, PMI report) will be more detailed and will use specialised terminology, while the deliverables targeting the general public (newsletters, press releases) will translate the project results into understandable and accessible language.

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