Promoting education and income generation behind bars
Everybody makes mistakes, but some people make more serious mistakes than others. It is not unusual for people to become delinquent out of need. Young men in particular feel the pressure to support their parents and siblings financially, or they already have their own families, whom they are unable to provide for due to the lack of employment opportunities. Added to this, despair and trauma can lead to acts of violence. The result: those affected end up in prison, where they are even less able to support their families, and they may even be disowned.
Support instead of punishment
Serving a prison sentence is rarely enough for the affected individuals to decide to lead a better life within society after their release. Instead, frustration builds up, and their willingness to commit criminal and violent acts increases.
The more years go by, the more difficult it becomes for them to gain a foothold in the “real” world.
Released prisoners quickly wind up behind bars again because they feel protected and have friends there. People must be prepared to lead an orderly life while they are still serving their prison sentences. Educational opportunities and jobs create prospects and security.
Developing professional and social skills
Promoting work and educational opportunities in prisons in South East Europe is not new. In some of these countries, prisons have to generate up to 50 per cent of their expenditure themselves. This alone means that they operate like social enterprises.
However, despite the support from the justice authorities, the demand for jobs cannot be met.
What is more, time seems to have stood still in the prisons. The machines are old, much work is done by hand, and the sleeping accommodation resembles ramshackle huts.
Help has equipped 23 prisons with machines and materials so that they can expand the employment opportunities in their internal agricultural businesses, carpentry workshops, bakeries, steel construction workshops, as well as dog schools and stables. The goods produced are not just sold; they also benefit the inmates personally, for example by providing them with beds and food. Every new job improves the prison’s supplies and creates new opportunities for the future.
Help and the correctional facilities cooperate with vocational schools on vocational training so that the trainees receive a recognised certificate that does not give any indication that the training was completed in a prison. This considerably improves their prospects of finding a job after they have served their sentence. Help also integrates released prisoners into its programmes to promote small-scale enterprises, thereby giving those affected a further opportunity to earn their own livelihoods.
Jobs and the daily occupation that this provides inmates have positive effects on communal life in prison, as the Deputy Director of the largest prison in Serbia, Sremska Mitrovica Correctional Institution, can confirm. He reports that relations between the inmates have become more peaceful, and there is less violence among the detainees. He also adds that it is an immense relief for the inmates to be able to support their families with a regular income so that they are not left destitute. An opportunity like this requires a great deal of discipline and social interaction, and very few squander it. Opening up these opportunities allows inmates to engage in a successful development process.
“When you walk through the desert and suddenly come across an oasis – that is our image of Help.”
Nenad Draganovic, Deputy Director of the Correctional Institution Sremska Mitrovica
What we have achieved:
- 23 prisons have expanded their employment and educational opportunities
- Over 2,700 people have benefited from vocational training
- More than 1,200 employees and 69 inmates have attended special training on preventing suicide and self-harming, anger management and similar issues, and two prisons have included this training in their curriculums
- 67 families have received sustainable economic support through the provision of non-cash benefits to former inmates
(Investment to date: €822.000)
“It is extremely difficult to get the job, preserve the family and friends unless you tell the truth. I’ve been sentenced to three years in prison. Thanks to the management of the prison and the resocialization programme of the organization Help that provided me with the equipment and education to work with horses, I was given a chance and got employed by the “Srem Horse Riding Centre”. Now, thanks to the job I have I earn money which means stability for my new life.” says B.K.
Help us to give people a second chance in life.
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