Czech Probation and Mediation Service opens the first Halfway House

On Thursday 24 November 2022 the Probation and Mediation Service opened the first Halfway House in the Czech Republic. The Halfway House has been been built within the project „Back to life“ funded by the Norway grants 2014-2021. The objective of the Halfway House is to support conditionally released offenders with reintegration into society and help them set up their lives in the first months upon their release that are considered the most crucial for sucessfull rehabilitation.

The newly opened Halfway House is situated in Písek (South Bohemia) and is designed for 16 clients. It offers a six month´ resocialization program  to conditionally released offenders and is aimed at adult male clients with imposed probation supervision and obligation to attend the in-house resocialization programs led by the Halfway House team. Other prerequisites for clients to enroll the Halfway House are, among others, the need for more thorough and long-term support but also the motivation to work on themselves.

This form of support to people with criminal past has been quite common in the world as it significantly contributes to reduce recidivism in the period upon release that is considered high-risk when the client finds himself free yet very often without support from his family or those around him. The Probation and Mediation Service has made use of the high-quality and proven experience from around the world, and this type of facility (project) is definitely one of them,“ says Andrea Matouskova, Director General of the Service.

As part of the operation of the Halfway House, the daily routine is scheduled to be as similar as possible to daily life but with clearly defined set of rules. The clients are obliged to stay within the premises of the House during certain periods of time, cooperate with the Halfway House team and take an active part in dealing with any issues arising, refrain from consuming alcohol and drugs, treat other clients in well manners and take care of premises of the House. During their stay in the House the clients will work together with the Halfway House team to become self-sufficient, be aware of the need to solve their problems and eventually to indicate the moment when it is necessary for them to seek professional support. 

The operation of the Halfway House in Písek was ceremonially opened by H.E. Mr. Victor Conrad Ronnenberg, the Ambassador of Norway in the Czech Republic, together with the Director General of the Probation and Mediation Service, Mrs. Andrea Matouskova, and Mr. Petr Dohnal, Deputy Minister of Justice for the Management of the Prison Section and Departmental Control. „Such projects as the Halfway House are part of the modern justice. They offer further professional work and support to people with criminal past and I am convinced that the operation of the House will demonstrate in practice that this is the way we need to go ahead to keep up with the current world and its needs. The help to people to leave their criminal past behind, refrain from recidivism and show them the way how to reintegrate into society and live ordinary life is for sure the right way to reduce criminality,“

Mr. Martin Bačkovský
Press Secretary
Mob. 731 637 890

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 ( -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.

“The Restoration of Normality: Mirroring the Past in the Future”

From 11 to 13 October 2021, Prague hosted the conference “The Restoration of Normality: Mirroring the Past in the Future”. The conference was co-organised by the Czech Probation and Mediation Service and Confederation of European Probation. With nearly 70 participants from 15 EU countries it was the very fist face to face conference that took place after two nearly two years.

The opening speech of the conference was delivered by the Czech Minister of Justice, Mrs Marie Benešová, Secretary General to the Confederation of European Probation, Mr Willem van der Brugge, and Director General of the Probation and Mediation Service, Mrs Andrea Matoušková.

The conference focused on key probation topics with a focus on restorative justice practices, its usage within alternatives to detention and interagency cooperation such as: Development of Restorative Practice in Probation, Radicalisation and restoration in the community, Domestic violence, Social support and integration, Education and Training. Besides that two special roundtables took place: one inspired by the series of website articles “A day in a life of probation officer”, focusing on probation officers, and the other one presented by senior probation officers who shared their experience and their opinion on the future of probation.  

“I am pleased that the conference provided us with the opportunity to share best practice, knowledge and experience. I am also very happy that we had a chance to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Probation and Mediation Service with colleagues and friends from abroad who then provided us with experience and valuable advice. I would like to thank everyone who arrived in Prague to attend the conference. Big thanks belong to the Confederation of European Probation – an organisation which we are members of for more than ten years and thanks to which the second international conference could have taken place in Prague”, says Andrea Matoušková, Director General of the Probation and Mediation Service.

Presentations are available here:

Day in a life of probation officer – Martina Behalkova

Is the day of a probation officer in Germany similar to the one of someone working in Romania? In the series ‘A day in the life of a probation officer’, we publish articles written by probation officers from different countries in Europe to see if their days look alike or are very different from each other. This article is written by Martina Behalkova, a probation officer from the Czech Republic.

I have been working as a probation officer for five years. My whole professional career I have been specializing in childhood abuse and neglect. Therefore, it was a clear and easy decision for me to join Probation and Mediation Service to focus on juvenile service users. I like this young generation, their opinion and point of view on present-day problems. They look so strong and confident but inside they are often confused and fragile.

The Czech Probation and Mediation Services pay a big attention to this group of young offenders and victims. We have specialized probation officers working with juveniles. They receive special training, for example how to manage a family conference. Juveniles have a lot of differences in comparison with adult offenders. I think the main difference is how they perceive time. In a juvenile‘s life, changes happen quicker than in the lives of adult offenders.

Because of that we usually stay in touch with young service users more often than adult offenders. We speak with them in our offices, visit them in their houses, schools and try to find appropriate sources of help. It is necessary for me to cooperate with all persons who are in touch with the juvenile such as their teachers, their coaches, or their social workers. Last but not least with their family members. All of them give me a part of information about the juvenile and therefore I can compose a mosaic about his/her life. This helps me ask the right questions at the right time and point out their needs.

A collaboration with persons who are in touch with the child is important on all levels. It is a Probation and Mediation Service which supports the System of Early Intervention. This is a process of work and communication in the area of the social and legal protection of juveniles. The members of the System of Early Intervention have regular face-to-face meetings about local problems, delinquent children and juveniles. The representatives of these systems are judges, public prosecutors, policemen, social workers and of course probation officers.

In March 2020, the lives of our juvenile service users totally changed. In the Czech Republic, all schools immediately closed. Nobody expected it. The schools stayed closed with short reopenings nearly for one whole year. At first, the juveniles were extremely happy. They could not believe in their happiness, they had days off, everywhere was chaos, nobody knew what to do. Their teachers tried to find appropriate communication channels to continue juveniles‘ school duties.

The fact is, although teachers tried to do their bestthese juveniles have been staying with their families, nearly for one year without social contact, a face to face with their teachers, their schoolmates, and their friends. Day after another their sports clubs, leisure – hobby centers, swimming pools, playgrounds… were all getting closed. The juveniles stayed home and their lives transformed into digital space for days, weeks, and months… They had been spending hours in front of various digital devices. Their greatest concern was…“Do you have a fast, strong Wi-Fi connection?“…If not, you don´t exist! In this situation, we missed information that usually a juvenile´s teachers and coaches could observe. We had to rely on information from the family. It was a new experience for me, verifying this information was difficult, but not impossible.

This time was also hard for these juveniles’ parents. Some of them lost their jobs, didn´t have enough money, didn´t have enough digital devices for all children in the family, or parents were overloaded and had to day after day cook for their children, and help them with school duties. Inside families, we could recognize tensions, arguments, and domestic violence as well. The juveniles didn´t have any place to escape, they were inside their family house for a long long time. During this hard time, probation officers paid more attention to domestic violence.

Media in the Czech Republic reported a higher alcohol consumption but my personal experience with a group of juvenile offenders has been a little different. Many juveniles told me that they left experimenting with drugs because of the Covid situation. Everything was closed like pubs, music clubs and these places protected them from high-risk moments in their lives when they usually experimented with alcohol or drugs. They described to me that it was easy for them because of the lack of opportunities that usually were given to them by their peers. I hope that they hold on to their decision for the future, for the ‘non- Covid times‘. I am not under any illusions regarding it but I cross my fingers.

So.. the work of probation officers varies. No day is the same and the ‘Covid time‘ teaches us new, unexpected things. We were in touch with the juveniles more often than usual, owing to telephone calls for example. Young offenders showed me that they are stronger than I expected them to be, to survive this scary period. However, I make sure that the best is the element of personal face-to-face guidance and help.

This article has been originally published on