ECOPRIS Transnational Seminar, 13 July – Lisbon, Portugal

On July 13, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, the transnational project ECOPRIS marked its closure at the international seminar where results, outputs and impressions from the project were presented. The seminar was opened by General Director, Mr. Celso Manata Directorate-General of Reintegration and Prison Services (DGRSP), where he stressed that there is a need for more focus in the area of prison work.

The project was launched and approved by the European Commission in September 2014 and it finished in August 2017. The objective was to create a conjoint course on prison work plans development, train 36 prison staff in 3 countries within 3 short-term transnational training events and improve community and businesses participation in staff and inmates labor integration actions. They have piloted national and transnational training courses in Romania, Turkey and Portugal. As a result, there are about 360 hours of training course available, as well as 155 learning objects such as debates, seminar and webinar.

This last meeting was an opportunity to see what has been done within the project and what still needs to be done beyond the project. One of the partners, The Head of Projects Department at DGRSP, Jorge Monteiro, stated that it is necessary to take advantage of European Projects in areas of innovation and development, to invest and train prison and probation staff. The goal of the Portuguese Reintegration and Prison Services was to manage a national common strategy to the most emblematic prison industries areas. They planned training sessions and national meetings for training course and allowed staff to visit sessions abroad in Turkey and Romania. Their main outputs were to engage all the staff involved and develop real business plans in prison work area.

After the feedback from the three countries on the project results and impressions, a presentation was held from Centre d’Iniciatives per a la Reinserció (CIRE), a public body in Catalonia that eases social and labor inclusion of former detainees. One of the key questions they raised: What kind of activities are purposeful in prison to prepare the inmate for work after prison? One of the ways how they tackle this question, they came up with a system called Formation, Employment and Insertion (FOI), which is a similar system as for persons that prepare people for work to gain work habits and skills. They go through a process of normalization, where they even have inmates where mixed gender work together. The inmates obtain salary and can earn their pension and the company social security benefits, this was decided since the beginning of the system for working inmates to have the same benefits as employees. At the end of the seminar, the partners presented the business plans from the chosen prisons where the pilot project was held.