Norvegia ajuta puscariasii din Romania sa se reintegreze în societate


Human ecology and re-integration of inmates in Tulcea prison in the Danube Delta, Romania

Many inmates struggle to meet the challenges of daily life after being released from prison. Finding a job and being respected as ordinary citizens in society can be very difficult. The recidivism rate in Romania in the first two years after release from prison is about 35-40%, while in Norway it is of 20%. That is why Romania and Norway work together on an eco-reintegration project, which shall provide inmates with educational opportunities in traditional Romanian crafts, in order to give them a sense of purpose while in prison, as well as to ease their return to the labor market upon release. In addition, the project aims to raise awareness about the importance of public attitudes towards former inmates in their successful reintegration into society. Genuine reintegration is impossible as long as discrimination and negative attitudes against people who have served a sentence are commonplace.

This was the focus of the project “Setting up an eco-reintegration mechanism for inmates” launched on September 10 in Bucharest. The project is inspired by the successful principles for reintegration of inmates into society from the renowned Bastøy prison in southeastern Norway. Receiving €580,000 from the Norway Grants, this is one of the projects supported under the program on Correctional Services.
The project draws on experiences from the Bastøy prison in Norway, where the recidivism rate is as low as 16%, lower than in Norway as a whole. An important principle in the Bastøy prison is to give the inmates as much responsibility for their own lives as possible. The only element of punishment in serving a sentence should be the loss of freedom, and unwanted side effects of the incarceration, such as psychological strain, feelings of shame and loss of purpose in life, are to be avoided. Prison guards should be able to see the inmates as individual human beings, and always maintain an empathetic approach in their work. The reintegration project will give an introduction to these principles to Romanian prison staff.
In the coming phase of the project, inmates from the Tulcea prison will build five workshops in Chilia Veche in the Danube Delta. These houses will have a clear ecological profile, and will be constructed according to Romanian construction traditions. Once built, the houses will serve as workshops where inmates can learn traditional Romanian crafts and construction methods. They will also function as venues for different awareness raising events.
Present at the launch were representatives from the project promoter, the National Administration of Penetentiaries, the Norwegian project partner, Correctional Services South Regional Office, the projects partner NGO’s, “Ivan Patzaichin Association – Mila 23” and “Asociatia Romano ButiQ”, the Romanian Ministry of Justice, the Mayor of Chilia Veche and the Norwegian Embassy. A video with interviews of young Romanian inmates was shown at the launch, describing the hardships that they had encountered in life before being imprisoned. Lack of education and poverty was a common denominator for the young men interviewed.
Romania currently has 31,900 inmates, and a prison population rate of 160 per 100,000 inhabitants. The corresponding numbers for Norway are 3,600 inmates and 72 per 100,000 inhabitants. The Norway Grants programme on Correctional Services aims at changing this situation by encouraging, i.a. use of alternative measures to imprisonment, training of inmates and of prison staff with the scope of ensuring decreased re-offending rates and a positive impact on the Romanian society as a whole.
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