Together with Czech and foreign partners, we initiate and promote systemic change. We also involve colleagues with lived experience of serving sentences in bringing about these changes. We believe that the cooperation of practitioners and people with lived experience can bring better solutions. We are part of Czech government advisory bodies and other working groups that deal with the issues of prisons, criminal justice and social exclusion. We initiated and co-founded the Association of Organisations Working in Penal Affairs (AOOV), in which we remain active.
Changes in penal policy
We are advocating for changes to the Criminal Code that would reduce the incarceration rate in the Czech Republic, which is the 4th highest in the EU. Reducing the prison population is one of our priorities and has the support of the professional community. We are advocating for further changes in penal policy that will lead to greater integration of people with criminal past and consideration of the needs of victims.
Changes in the area of debt
There are more than 800,000 people with serious debt problems in the Czech Republic. We advocate a simplification of the system of dealing with people stuck in the trap of debt. This change is important because for many debtors it is not worthwhile to work in the official economy and contribute taxes and insurance contributions. The current failing system of managing debt actually increases the burden of personal debt and also reduces the repayment rate to creditors.
More than 50 % of Czech prisons have the capacity for more than 500 prisoners. We are part of the European RESCALED movement, which aims to develop small community prisons. RESCALED is based on 3 principles:
- Prisons should be small.
- Prisons should allow for individual and differentiated approaches for the needs of prisoners.
- Prisons should be integrated into the local community
We support developing best practice and raising awareness of both practitioners and policy makers about advantages of small scale facilities and we aim to develop a new paradigm for prisons.
On release from prison many prisoners do not have the skills to find and hold down a regular job. Most of these prisoners could be assisted through the training-employment scheme. We advocate an improvement in the national system and the integration of this scheme into the mainstream national employment policy.
Simplifying the welfare system
In cooperation with other organisations, we are advocating the simplification of the welfare system. The current system is too complicated. The complex bureaucracy is very demanding on both clients and employment/labour office staff. This leads to long delays in receiving benefit payments. In some cases the current system makes clients’ lives worse.
Who we work with:
Association of Organisations Working in Penal Affairs (AOOV)
Caritas of the Czech Republic
Czech Human Rights Commissioner
Czech Priorities (think tank)
Frank Bold (NGO)
Institute for Social Inclusion (NGO)
Institute for the Prevention and Resolution of Over-indebtedness (NGO)
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice strategic working group
People in Need (NGO)
PLATZ – Platform for Training Employment (NGO)
Probation and Mediation Service
RESCALED – European movement for detention houses
SPOT – Centre for Social Issues (European NGO)
Wayback (Norwegian NGO)
Working Group on Penal Policy under the Government Council for Human Rights