A new initiative seeks to break the reoffending cycle and reduce recidivism by supporting employment opportunities for (ex)inmates.
The reoffending cycle is characterised by the process of an individual committing a crime, being sentenced, incarcerated, released, and when faced with no support and with the same conditions, leaning back into old criminal habits. High recidivism rates are indicators of the prevalence of this vicious cycle.
In the face of this problem, the STEPS project aimed at working on the resocialisation and inclusion of young offenders and youngsters in precarious situations (e.g. refugees, migrants, amongst others). This initiative used sports as a leisure activity to address and inspire the target groups. Now, the involved project partners are taking that successful project into its NEXT STEPS.
Facilitating offender reintegration on multiple fronts: The NEXT STEPS project
NEXT STEPS – Development and testing of a process chain for the placement of former detainees as specialists in the labour market- was designed to fill the gap between prison services and relevant regional actors.
The project’s first goal is to contribute to the reintegration of former inmates through sports activities while they’re in correctional facilities. This strand of socialisation improves inmates’ social skills such as teamwork, willingness to learn, communication, and cooperation. All of these competencies are highly relevant for future employees.
Moreover, the initiative accompanies and supports the inmates on their way into the primary labour market. This is done by stimulating a symbiotic relationship between prison services and regional companies. The latter benefit from the opportunity to recruit skilled workers, some of whom are already well qualified and motivated.
To implement this cooperation, NEXT STEPS’ project encompasses several components. Firstly, there is a need to capacitate prison staff on how to assess key competencies of inmates, resorting to the creation of a pedagogical handout. Then, the consortium will develop a platform, a database with dozens of companies and volunteer organisations in each partner country (Germany, Austria, Italy, and Portugal).
Finally, the project seeks to implement a process chain that takes advantage of the developed tools. It is expected that a robust and streamlined process involving all stakeholders will facilitate this cooperation and improve results.
Launching a replicable model aiming to change lives
NEXT STEPS’ multifaced approach ultimately aims at reducing the risk of recidivism. The project focuses on young offenders with imminent release dates, hoping to increase their opportunities for a sustainable and law-abiding living project.
The project itself has been designed to be sustainable; Its implementation seeks to maintain and expand practices and results by establishing regional networks. After its 30-month lifespan, NEXT STEPS aims to provide replicable and easily adaptable outputs to other institutions and countries.
The NEXT STEPS partners discussed their goals and plans for the project at their face-to-face kick-off meeting on March 3th, 2022, in Heinsberg (Germany). The event was organised by Westdeutscher Handwerkskammertag (West German Chamber of Crafts), the German project’s coordinator. All members of the consortium were present, namely IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), The Austrian Center for Lifelong Learning (Austria), Base- und Softballvereinigung Wassenberg 01 e.V. (Wassenberg Base and Softball Association, Germany), Scuola Costruzioni Vicenza Andrea Palladio (Italy), Scuola Costruzioni Vicenza Andrea Palladio (Construction School Vicenza Andrea Palladio, Italy), Talentbrücke GmbH & Co. KG (Germany), Antigone Onlus (Italy), and Linc (Italy).
Go to NEXT STEPS project page.