Life after prison: the return to society in Georgia

Rehabilitation for prisoners in Georgia meets many challenges: there is a limited budget and high societal stigma against prisoners. The prison system finds itself in transition from being highly influenced by Soviet times to a system that meets European standards. With the support of the European Commission, the social reintegration of prisoners in Georgia is being improved. 

Mainline is part of one of the EU-funded initiatives working on this. Together with partners Tanadgoma and Rehabilitation Initiative for Vulnerable Groups (RIVG) we completed a study into transition management for prisoners in Georgia. The study consisted of a survey among various stakeholders. Prisoners, the Prison Authorities, Probation Office and the Crime Prevention Service all actively participated. Mainline contributed by assembling best practices from the Netherlands, Germany and Lithuania. During a meeting on 14 March 2018, the results were discussed.

Salome Namitcheishvili, a key expert to the EU in Georgia said:

‘the high prisoner to population ratio in Georgia is one of the issues we would like to tackle in the near future. The focus on high-risk offenders instead of low-risk offenders such as drug users is a smart strategy that links directly into theory.’

The political will of all the involved parties provided reason for optimism. Some important outcomes:

  • There is a need for systematic data collection to learn what works and to allow for impact measurements (level of recidivism) and international comparison;
  • There is a need for more societal discussion about the purpose of prisons (retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and/or rehabilitation);
  • Rehabilitation efforts in Georgia will benefit from a shift in focus from low-risk to high-risk offenders and towards the punishment of low-risk offenders with alternative sentences;
  • Recidivism rates can be positively influenced when special attention is paid to people who use drugs and who might have complex needs (in terms of health, housing, work and finance);
  • Consistent experimentation with various evidence-based (treatment) programmes can teach us ‘what works’.

The partners in this project will use the study outcomes to direct their advocacy efforts for 2018. You can find more information about the project here.

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