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HFHR launches report on reintegration of residents of juvenile rehabilitation institutions

Does the system of juvenile rehabilitation in Poland work effectively? What happens to young adults after they leave young offender institutions and youth education centres? Do they have somewhere to go? These are some of the questions answered by the most recent report of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights concerning the reintegration of residents of juvenile rehabilitation institutions.

The report is an outcome of the project Children’s Rights Behind Bars 2.0, funded by the European Union. While working on the report, HFHR staff held eight meetings with more than 30 people professionally involved in the juvenile rehabilitation system: employees of young offender institutions, youth education centres and foster care institutions, social services workers, as well as activists of non-governmental organisations supporting the social reintegration process.

According to the HFHR, the existing legal regulations, the organisation of the juvenile justice system, structure and role of rehabilitation institutions, as well as benefits supporting the social reintegration of residents of these institutions do not form a coherent reintegration system. “Activities are not coordinated, experiences and synergies are not shared”, says Marcin Wolny, who coordinates the project on behalf of the HFHR.

The report covers an analysis of the existing forms of support for the processes of social reintegration of former residents of juvenile rehabilitation institutions. The most frequently used support mechanisms are subsidies for further education, social reintegration and in-kind assistance in the settling in process.

Statistics of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy indicate that a sizable percentage of persons leaving rehabilitation institutions do not use these support mechanisms. “This is because of the many formal criteria. As a result, a considerable section of the leaving residents of rehabilitation institutions is deprived of vital support”, says Marcin Wolny.

This situation leads to certain consequences. “The system throws unassisted minors into the deep end. This is a direct path to their problems being exacerbated, accumulated and projected on the environment”, Mr Wolny adds. The above conclusions have been confirmed, also by a study performed by the Supreme Audit Office. The SOA found out that as much as 60% of former residents of youth education centres commits a crime within 5 years of leaving the centre.

The HFHR’s report may be read here.

The launch of the report is accompanied by the publication of The Guidebook on the Rights of Detained Children and their Reintegration from the Perspective of Participation. Examples of Innovative Practices from the EU Member States. The Guidebook presents experiences of organisations participating in the Children’s Right Behind Bars 2.0 project. Readers of the Guidebook will receive comprehensible information on how to educate the staff and wards of rehabilitation centres about human rights and how to talk to them about the problem of reintegration. The Guidebook also describes methods that may be used to improve the situation of detained children. The Guidebook may be found here.

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