About the project

Association „Youth Forum 2001-Razgrad“ presents the new project „Freedom behind bars“ which is supported by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 by the Ministry of Justice under the Small grant scheme of Programme BG 15 „CORRECTIONAL SERVICES INCLUDING NON-CUSTODIAL SANCTIONS“.

Project partner is the Association „NGO Center in Razgrad“ with proven experience in the civil monitoring of the judicial system and the prevention of domestic violence.

Project activities will continue until the month of March 2016. They are aimed at employees of places of detention: Prison in the city of Pleven and prisoners.

The project goal is to increase the focus on vulnerable groups of in prisons, by developing training programs for prison staff and prisoners.

Along with the still existing problems of social and correctional activities in Pleven prison in recent years there are positive findings, making it subject to subsequent adequate interventions for positive change, as is the current project. [1]

Why was selected the prison in Pleven?

  1. Both of partners associations have extensive experience in previous projects in Pleven and they are familiar with the work of the court. During the 2008-2011 year were implemented several initiatives for civil monitoring of the Court.
  2. In prison in Pleven we able to find three of the five target groups of the program BG15: roma, drug addicts, and people with disabilities. By working with them we will follow the dynamics of re-socialization and the readiness for change in their life outside prison.
  3. The prison in Pleven has fulfilled European standards for minimum area of one prisoner – four square meters.
  4. During the last years in prison in Pleven we can be seen good practice that deserves to be studied and analyzed against the objectively existing problems in the system of serving sentences

Project activities:

  • Preparation of a professional team to effective work with prison staff and prisoners;
  • „Language behind bars“ – initiatives for the implementation of good practices in accordance with European standards to attract public participation in the process of rehabilitation, including the provision of integrated services;
  • Training of trainers among prison staff to implement specialized programs for re-socialization of the prisoners;
  • The benefits of supervision – feedback – „Talking through silence“ – what excites employees in system of serving sentences;
  • A Programme for raising awareness and training of prisons families, relatives, victims and key stakeholders (courts, prosecution, police, social services, labor offices) on common principles and good practice in working with vulnerable groups in prisons.
  • Common learning of staff in places of serving sentences, key institutions and NGOs in three cities – Veliko Tarnovo, Vratsa and Varna;
  • Developing of specialized programs for the education of three vulnerable groups in prison – roma and other minority groups, drug addicts and people with disabilities;
  • Training for representatives of vulnerable groups among prisoners who assist the process of social inclusion and integration into the community;
  • “The prisons on the Internet”.

Expected result of the project is increased capacity of staff at the prison in Pleven for the implementation of specialized programs for rehabilitation.

The main target groups of the project are: the prison staff in the prison in Pleven; prisoners (Roma and other minority groups, drug addicts and people with disabilities). Additional target group of the project are the key stakeholders of the institutions: court, prosecution, police, probation services; social workers, civic leaders and charities.

The implementation of the project helps to increase motivation and acquisition of key competencies of employees in the prison in Pleven and contributes for expanding their professional knowledge and skills.

The project is aimed at direct work with prisoners to increase their activity and gradually cultivate and prepare their skills for life after the prison. Through participation in the project convicted persons have the chance receive peculiar „Freedom behind bars.“

As a project’s results will be increased capacity of staff at the prison in Pleven for the implementation of special programs for social rehabilitation. The project synthesize and develop accumulated experience by deciding basic problem – the lack of specialized programs in the process of reintegration of prisoners as part of reform in the Bulgarian system of correctional service. One of the main lines of our work with prisoners is to help them to prepare for a successful reintegration into society.

As a result of the project will be published „Handbook for training of specialists who work in places of detention“ and „Handout with specialized programs to work with sentenced to deprivation of liberty.“ One of our experts will actively work with a group of convicted persons for the issue of „No name newspaper – by and for prisoners”. This activity will builds upon and extends the existing social programs in prison in Pleven.

 [1] Annual Report 2014 of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM)