6 out of 10 prisoners use addictive substances
In the Czech Republic, the number of convicted people who are also users of addictive substance has been steadily increasing over the past nine years. In 2019, almost six out of ten prisoners in Czech prisons belonged to this group. At the same time, addictive substance use is one of the strongest reasons that convicts return to prison. Some inmates reduce usage or abstain from drug use altogether. However, many of them return to using drugs after returning from prison. On the contrary, there are also cases where people started using drugs while in prison. Systemic support for drug users in prison in the Czech Republic is quite limited, and the system of support for prisoners after their return from prison and their preparation for life after release is also fragmented.
A case management method is to be introduced in 12 Czech prisons
“For these reasons, the largest organizations operating in the Czech Republic in the field of support for people with addictions and in the field of work with convicts have joined together in a joint multi-year project. The aim of the project is to create and pilot a new method of case management in working with drug-addicted prisoners in 12 Czech prisons. If this approach proves successful, it will be transferred to other prison facilities throughout the country in the future,” explains project manager Jakub Michal from the Association of Providers of Addiction Services, z.s., which is the implementer of the project.
Case management prepares prisoners for release and reintegration
The project is designed in such a way that, in cooperation with the Prison Service of the Czech Republic, a functioning, interconnected system of support can be created directly in prisons in the phase of preparation for the release of prisoners. This will likely be followed by intensive professional support during the transition of prisoners back into society. Therefore, the case-management program will bring together professionals from several areas related to dealing with addiction and working with prisoners – for example, social workers, health professionals, addictologists, representatives of the Probation and Mediation Service and others.
The key is a realistic plan for life after release
“Drug users in prison combine two forms of socially undesirable behaviour – crime and drug use. For many of them, there is an accumulation of social problems – relationship and family problems, unemployment, debt, and homelessness – which are often accompanied by health problems. Our goal will be to support these people in creating a realistic plan for life after their release and to provide them with practical support in the implementation of this plan,” explains Jakub Michal.
The vision is to reduce recidivism in the Czech Republic. The results of the project will be verified by research.
The project also wants to contribute to reducing the recidivism of prisoners in the Czech Republic. The rate of recidivism is one of the highest in the European Union, with up to three-quarters of released prisoners returning to prison.
In addition to the creation of the Case Management program itself, the project also includes the education and supervision of individual staff involved in the project, from the professional staff of the cooperating prisons to the staff of individual organizations. The project also includes continuous research and ongoing evaluation of the whole project and its individual parts.