Unique longitudinal project examines the factors of desistance at clients of the Probation and Mediation Service

The Factors for reoffending and the process of desistance in the context of conditional release project, launched in 2020 in the Czech Republic by the Institute of Sociology and Institute of Psychology of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention, is a unique enterprise in the field of criminological research.

The project aims to contribute to the increased effectiveness of the Probation and Mediation Service client´s treatments on parole, development of new intervention programs of the Prison Service of the Czech Republic for persons serving prison sentences and their reintegration into society.      

Drawing on the world-famous Dr. Farrall research (ʺTracking Progress on Probation“), the project is based on prospective approach, combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods and collection of longitudinal panel data of individuals on parole in order to better understand the process of desistance.

The project is co-financed with the state support of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic. More information about the project and its realization can be found here: http://recidiva.soc.cas.cz/en.

The article is written by:
Dr. Eva Krulichová, researcher in the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Dr. Jan Tomášek, researcher in the Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention

Public opinion research: the majority of Czech citizens consider probation to be an appropriate way of dealing with offenders

In the Czech Republic, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a public opinion survey was carried out on attitudes and opinions about probation and the possibilities of using it in working with offenders. It was carried out on a representative sample of the population over 15 years of age.

The results can be considered broadly favourable. Only 17% of the respondents considered probation to be a fundamentally inappropriate way of treating offenders, all others considered it to be an acceptable alternative to imprisonment. However, opinions on the suitability of probation vary according to the type of offender. While the majority of the public (80%) would find it suitable for juveniles, this is only 42% for offenders who avoid employment long‑term, 35% for alcohol or drug addicts, 15% for offenders who had failed probation in the past and just 11% for recidivists.

Moreover, it cannot be overlooked that the public would set strict rules for probationary period. In a situation where they had to decide, as judges, on the conversion of probation into a prison sentence, most respondents (64%) would only forgive the client one unexcused missed meeting at the PMS centre; in all other cases included on our questionnaire, they would end the probationary period. For example, only 13% would not send a client to prison if he/she did not repay the damage caused by his/her crime, and 15% if he/she used drugs or lied to a probation officer about important matters.

Some of the questions also focused on the potential contribution of probation to criminal policy. Optimism was most often directed at the chance this measure would bring economic benefits to the state (two‑thirds of respondents believed this). According to 56% of respondents, probation would increase the chances of victims getting compensation from the offender, 43% believed in the rehabilitation effect of probation on the offender and 33% believed in its effect on the overall reduction of crime.

It turned out that the awareness of citizens about the existence of the Probation and Mediation Service has improved compared to the earlier research. In 2008, only 8% of the public had a clear idea of its activities, while 73% did not know the organisation at all (the rest of the respondents only had a vague idea). At present, 22% of the public knows the Service, at least 35% have heard about it and 43% have no idea of its existence.

The research publication, which includes a summary in English, can be obtained here: http://www.ok.cz/iksp/docs/460.pdf

In addition, the research data was also used in an article recently published in the European Journal of Probation: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/20662203221088096

The article is published with the consent of the author, Dr. Jan Tomasek, Researcher.

SuperCom fails to thwart the payment of bank guarantees

The SuperCom company, a supplier to the Electronic monitoring system for the Czech justice through the Probation and Mediation Service, failed with a proposal against the Czech Republic to thwart the payment of the bank guarantees. The former electronic monitoring supplier tried to impose a ban on the payment of the bank guarantees in the Czech and Israeli courts. The Israeli court rejected the proposal of the SuperCom company mainly because the Israeli courts have no authority to impose the ban.

On 19 May 2022, the District Court in Tel Aviv decided to reject a motion for interlocutory injunction through which the SuperCom company demanded to impose the ban on the payment of the bank guarantees provided by the Israeli bank in favour of the Czech Probation and Mediation Service in the amount of 15 million CZK. The bank guarantees were issued to secure the compliance with sanctions which the Probation and Mediation Service applies for serious breaches of contract for the electronic monitoring system. The breaches of contract by SuperCom repeatedly jeopardized functionality of the electronic bracelets which were used to check on the movement of convicted or prosecuted persons.

SuperCom has exhausted all possibilities to try to prevent the payment of the bank guarantees which were paid by the bank to the Probation and Mediation Service. The bank guarantees will be used to partially pay the sanctions claimed under the contract for the supply of electronic bracelets. The Probation and Mediation Service will enforce the remaining part of the claim for penalties for breach of contract against SuperCom through court proceedings.

Mr. Martin Bačkovský
Press Secretary
Mob. 731 637 890

Probation and Mediation Service and the Police of the Czech Republic pay tribute to victims of crime

Probation and Mediation Service will commemorate the European Day for Victims of Crime. In cooperation with the Police of the Czech Republic both organizations will pay tribute to victims of crime by hoding a minute of silence on Tuesday 22 February 2022 at noon. In front of the police stations across the Czech Republic policemen will lit beacons of police cars.

The European Day for Victims of Crime marks the signing of the Charter of Victims´ Rights in the United Kingdom in 1990. Its aim is to raise awareness on rights and needs of victims. Probation and Mediation Service have long supported victims of crime in their active effort to cope with difficult life situation and help fight against prejudices. Currently, the victims of crime can ask for help or professional advice in 74 Service Centres across the Czech Republic.

“Last year our Service cooperated with 4,281 victims of crime. Back in 2020 we provided help and support to 4,306 victims of crime. The number of crime victims who need help is not low at all. We encourage you to join us on Tusday 22 February at noon and pay tribute to victims of crime“ says Andrea Matouskova, Director General of the Czech Probation and Mediation Service.

“Helping the victims of crime is a major issue for the Ministry of Justice. The European Day for Victims of Crime is a good opportunity to remind that in the Czech Republic we have a large network of professionals to contact, not only state institutions but non-profit organizations as well. In both state institutions like Probation and Mediation Service or the Police of the Czech Republic, and NGO´s you can find professionals who are trained to deal with crisis situations, complement and cooperate with each other. I am very glad that state sector and NGO´s are able to cooperate with each other and provide help to victims of crime,“ says Pavel Blazek, the Minister of Justice.

The Police of the Czech Republic have long experience in working with the victims of crime. 78 specially equipped interrogation rooms can be found across the Czech Republic. The fist interrogation rooms were built up back in 2004. In 2021, a total of 1,658 acts with victims of crime were carried out in these rooms. The purpose of working in special interrogation rooms is to prevent secondary victimization of crime victims. The Police have put in place a large network of persons providing crisis interventions who if needed are able to provide victims of crime with acute psychological care. 235 trained police officers and psychologist is ready to provide direct crisis intervention. “Every victim has right to sensitive attitude,“ emphasizes Col. Ludek Fiala, Director of the Office of the Criminal Police and Investigation Service of the Police Presidium of the Czech Republic.

Victims´ rights are guaranteed in the Act No 45/2013 on Victims of Rights. The act defines the status of “particularly vulnerable victims”, which include e.g. children, the elderly or victims of domestic and sexual violence, rape, terrorist attack. Particularly vulnerable victims have special rights, such as free legal aid, professional assistance, medical treatment, as well as interrogation of the victim by the same or opposite sex. The Police of the Czech Republic are aware of the vulnerability of victims of crime, and one of its long-term goals is to ensure human and sensitive access to these victims. Therefore, in the past the Police have set up a separate chapter on its website designed especially for people who have encountered crime (https://www.policie.cz/clanek/informace-pro-obeti-trestnych-cinu-a-zasazene -mimoradnymi-Událostistmi.aspx). The Police respect everyone who decides to talk about what happened to him/her.

On this day, a happening in the Atrium Cultural Center in Prague’s Žižkov will take place. The screening of the Finnish film Face to Face and the subsequent discussion are intended not only for victims of crime, but also for professionals who come into contact with the victims. Happening organized by the Institute for Restorative Justice will start at 5 pm and is also an example of good cooperation between the state and non-profit sectors.

Meeting on mutual cooperation with the Prosecutor General

Dr Andrea Matouskova, Director General of the Probation and Mediation Service, has hold a meeting with Dr Igor Striz, Prosecutor General of the Prosecutor General´s Office to evaluate on cooperation between the two organisations.

„We have discussed the decisions on parole and cooperation amongst the Probation and Mediation Service and state prosecutors before the decision on parole is issued, application of V-O mediation in practice, restorative conferences in the criminal proceedings etc. Our conversation also centred around alternative measures nad sanctions which are the core activity for the Service“, said Dr Striz.

„Mutual cooperation amongst probation officers and state prosecutors has always been essential to the process of criminal proceedings and good work in the criminal justice. I am glad that during the meeting we had a chance to discuss about the amendments which brought new and very needed powers to the practice of probation officers“, added Dr Matouskova.

MgA. Martin Bačkovský, spokesperson of the Probation and Mediation Service
Mgr. Petr Malý, spokesperson of Prosecutor General´s Office

Probation and Mediation Service provide support to crime victims

Is there anyone around you who has become a victim of theft, robbery or any other unlawful actions? Have you become the victim of crime? Do you know your rights and do you want to know more about the process of criminal proceedings? Do you need to be accompanied to the Police of the Czech Repuvlic or to the court? We are here to provide you with support even in the situation described by our colleague, probation officer from the Jeseník Service Centre:

A 55 year old female client has been robbed. The cottage in the garden of her house was left almost empty. A lawn mower, tools and wood saw – everything was stolen. The door lock and doors were damaged. At first glance, you could think about the crime as about the property damage but in fact the client suffered a huge mental blow. Her sense of security was disturbed and she was afraid that next time thieves could break into her house. After reporting to the Police she needed to get oriented in what her next steps as the crime victim are, what she can expect from the criminal proceedings and what she needs to get ready for. The Police of the Czech Republic provided her with the first information, yet, the she did not know what to do next, which rights apply to her. She needed to be accompanied to the police interrogation, she was not well-oriented and was afraid to handle everything just on her own. The Police recommended to contact the Victim´s Counselling Office.

She therefore contacted the Victim´s Counselling Office. The Victim´s Counsellor helped her draft a report on compensation for damage which is used during the criminal proceedings. She provided all documents regarding the damage and repairs she had paid for. It is important to provide all these documents, otherwise she would have to enforce her claim in further court proceedings. She also needed to be accompanied to the police interrogation as there was no one who could do that in the position of confidant and in general, everything that happened put a lot of stress on her. The Victim´s Counsellor accompanied her, provided her with mental support, she could talk with the Counsellor about what had happened and share how she had felt and what the crime had caused to her life. She could not sleep, eat and she avoided people she did not know. With the help of the Victim´s Counsellor she was able to draft the Victim Impact Statement which is a part of the court file. In her statement she described not only the property damages but even the mental damages she had suffered from. She exercised her rights in practice – applied for compensation for damage, was accopanied by the confidant, drafted the Victim Impact Statement and used the professional help of the Victim´s Counsellor.  

Crime victims can contact the Probation and Mediation Service Centres operating in 74 towns across the Czech Republic on any working day. The aim of the European Day for Victims of Crime on 22 February is to raise awareness about the victim´s rights and needs.

Probation and Mediation Service traditionally commemorates this day as well. This year together with the Police of the Czech Republic we will honour the victims of crime with a minute of silence and lit beacons of police cars.

Improving the position of the Probation and Mediation Service in the Czech Republic

On 25th of May 2021, the Chamber of Deputies of Czech republic approved the Chamber Press 624, which contained a package of broader changes based on the Senate amendments. It concerned, among other things, Act No. 257/2000 Coll. on the Probation and Mediation Service. The amendment, which aims to bring positive changes to the practice of probation officers, came into force on January 1st 2022.

Based on the proposal initiated by the Probation and Mediation Service, the position of probation officers and their powers was adjusted. In practice, the changes will be reflected mainly in the exercise of supervision, but also in alternative punishments, such as community services or home detention. Other changes allow, for example, probation officers to enter criminal cases earlier, including cases of children under the age of 15.

As part of the approved proposal, the circle of victims of crime with the right to be a vulnerable victim will be expanded at the same time. Victims of the crimes of rape, abuse of the entrusted person and abuse of the person living in the same household will be included in the mentioned area. The status of vulnerable victim will ensure that the persons concerned are more sensitive to investigate the case and have the opportunity to have a trustee free of charge.

Members of the Action Team for Judicial Cooperation, including experts in criminal law, experienced practitioners from the ranks of probation officers, judges and prosecutors, as well as researchers and other experts, worked on the preparation of the amendment under our leadership. Our previous practical experience, which I personally presented together with representatives of the Ministry of Justice at the meetings of the Constitutional and Legal Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, was important in enforcing the proposal. I consider the approval of the proposal to be a very good news, which confirms that our practical experience was taken into account in the preparation of the amendment and that our recommendations for changes in current practice received professional and political support, ” comments Andrea Matoušková, Director of the Probation and Mediation Service.

MEDIATION IN THE REFLECTION OF LAW AND SOCIETY: EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES

The monograph “Mediation in the Reflection of Law and Society: European Perspectives” is currently being published by Kluwer Law International, in which our colleagues from the Czech Probation and Mediation Service also took part. Together with the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, we obtained data for a spatio-temporal analysis of the use of mediation in EU countries.

Despite slow progress in use, mediation continues to consolidate its presence in dispute resolution. This important book argues that a more favourable socio-legal climate must be created for mediation to thrive, and accordingly analyses the legal, cultural, social, systemic and spatial aspects of the use of mediation in the legal practice of the different countries of the European Union (EU). Based on a spatiotemporal analysis and models of mediation in the EU, it pinpoints the social and cultural reasons for the fragmentation of its legal regulation and shows what paths are available to promote the effective implementation of mediation in social practice.

PF 2022

The Czech Probation and Mediation Service wishes you a happy and peaceful New Year 2022.

Conference of the Ministers of Justice in Venice

Director General of the Czech Probation and Mediation Service, Mrs Andrea Matoušková, and the Deputy for Probation and Mediation, Mrs Kateřina Šlesingerová, represented the Czech Republic at the Conference of the Ministers of Justice of the Council of Europe “Crime and Criminal Justice – the role of restorative justice in Europe” which took place from 13 to 14 December in Venice, Italy. The aim of the conference was to examine in detail the potential benefits of using restorative justice, having as a reference point the Recommendation of the CoE CM/Rec (2018)8 on restorative justice in criminal matters.

The Italian Presidency presented for an adoption a “Venice Declaration on the Role of restorative justice in criminal matters” in order to promote the practice of restorative justice and further implement its application by the Council of Europe Member States, aiming at a widespread implementation of the above-mentioned Reccomendation. The declaration calls upon the Council of Europe to:

  • Carry out a comprehensive study of models of restorative justice currently covered by national legislations and implemented by member States’ governments, in order to facilitate exchange of knowledge, best practices, experiences and genuine scientific research on this topic, while recognising national specificities;
  • Elaborate “Council of Europe High-Level Principles on Restorative Justice”, proposing a set of measures through which member States will endeavour to apply these principles;
  • Continue, through the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), to regularly assess the implementation of Recommendation (2018)8 and the principles annexed thereto, in the light of any significant developments in the use of restorative justice in member States and, if necessary, revise it, according to Rule 67 of the Recommendation.