A plea for increasing self-determination in prisons and for people under judicial control

Our study showed that the need for self-determination of detainees and persons under judicial control is a recurring commonality, i.e. a cross-cultural and cross-national feature in all of the surveyed prisons, independent of the differing penal systems. To foster the exercise of self-determination is therefore the main focus of our supporting practices.

Following the theory of self-determination, the freedom and opportunity to choose between several options is a key factor. A lack of opportunities for a self-determined life endangers the personal dignity of the people under judicial control.

Hence, we are asking decision-makers to implement the recommendations that we have developed based on the results of our study, and our extensive expertise acquired through years of working with prisoners all over Europe.

  • Promote any action which contributes to enabling persons to preserve their human dignity while in prison.
  • Take measures and support all activities that strengthen the connection between prisoners and the outside world, to facilitate immediate access to rights after release to avoid recidivism.
  • Develop alternatives to detention under criminal law and promote their effective implementation. This necessitates support from social workers, volunteers and civil society..

By changing the structures from within, by promoting a self-determined life for prisoners, a successful reintegration and a peaceful coexistence in society can be achieved.

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