Throughout the years, human rights mechanisms have identified numerous shortcomings of European countries’ penitentiary systems: depreciated assets, poor material conditions, persistent overcrowding, unemployment, inadequate security, etc. The situation is even worse regarding some particularly vulnerable groups of inmates (women, foreigners, minorities, drug users and juvenile offenders) who require special treatment but are often deprived of adequate services. All these problems undermine the effectiveness of the penitentiary systems and the chances of offenders to successfully re-integrate in the society. As a result, many experts argue that prisons are no longer capable of re-educating offenders and preventing recidivism. To respond to this challenge, many countries have introduced different alternatives to imprisonment (probation, community service). However, the impact of such policies on the resocialisation of offenders is yet to be studied and evaluated.

The project "Re-socialisation of offenders in the EU: enhancing the role of the civil society (RE-SOC)" aims at improving the situation in prisons and the resocialisation of offenders by exploring three distinct, yet closely related aspects: (1) promoting the broader use of alternatives to imprisonment by studying the scope of their application, examining the role of communities and NGOs in their enforcement and collecting best practices; (2) improving the situation of specific groups of vulnerable inmates through identification of such groups, examination of their problems, and collection and exchange of best practices for their treatment; and (3) designing an instrument for regular prison monitoring by using the available and accessible information and designing and piloting a set of indicators. In addition, a precisely targeted yet diverse dissemination strategy will help communicate project results to the relevant audience on national and European level.

The project will be implemented by a partnership of research institutes from five Member States (Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Lithuania) experienced in the field of prison reform and inmates’ rights. The effective cooperation among the partners established during previous joint actions will facilitate the successful realisation of the project objectives and will contribute to the sustainability of the achieved results.

Duration: 2013.02.01 – 2015.01.31.

Researchers: Gytis Andrulionis, Simonas Nikartas, Renata Giedrytė.


The project is funded by European Commision funds under the programme "Criminal Justice".