The European Prison Training Academies (EPTA).

Since its inception, the Academy of Justice has continued to be a member of a network of academies and institutions providing research and training in the field of penitentiary, security and forensic science – the European Prison Training Academies (EPTA).

The network was initiated in 2008. EPTA members represent all countries of the European Union and the Council of Europe. The network implements – with the participation of EuroPris (an EU agency) – European grants in the area of research and training of the prison service. A key event for the transfer of experience and research results is the annual EPTA conference organised each time in the country of the presidency.

In 2020, the Academy of Justice won the trust of EPTA members and assumed the presidency of the network.

The EPTA Presidency is a unique honour and recognition for the young but intensively and successively developing Academy of Justice. The presidential function was previously held by established national and international actors. Being entrusted with the task of leading an international, European network implementing EU grants is an exceptional situation and bodes well for the future.

During the Presidency, the Academy of Justice guides developments, oversees the work of the EPTA Steering Committee and acts as the main organiser and host of the annual conference. During the 2021 term, in addition to the firecamps implemented under the European grant, the Presidency developed a programme of scientific seminars.

Inaugural seminar entitled: ENAP Seminar on Counteracting Alcoholism was held on 22 April 2021 (VIRTUAL). It was conducted as part of the EPTA network’s series of practical seminars and was devoted to prevention of and counteracting alcoholism. The event was attended by representatives from 6 European countries.

EPTA Annual Conference 2021 (21–23 September 2021, Warsaw) – the annual conference hosted speakers from most EPTA member institutions. Due to the pandemic, the 14th edition was organised in hybrid mode: in Warsaw, Kalisz and online. The theme of the conference was “Prison Service in Time of COVID: Impact on training and teaching”.

The first day of the conference began with the opening ceremony, which was conducted by Rector-Commander Marcin Strzelec, Gen. PhD., together with a special guest of the ceremony Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Justice Marcin Romanowski, PhD.

During the first lecture, Emma Oosten presented the prospects of future international cooperation under the EPTA II Project. Successively, representatives of the European Commission – Lena Geckle and Cédric Le-Bosse spoke on the prospects of judicial training for 2021–2024. The next presentation by Dominika Teklińska, PhD Eng., concerned the offer of 2-year post-doctoral fellowships that can be implemented at the Academy of Justice in Poland. The first plenary session began with a presentation by Jean-Philippe Mayol and Hugues Belliard on the health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the transformation of the ENAP training institution in times of crisis. An analysis of the impact of the crisis on training, the reorganisation of the work and methods of the teaching and training staff, as well as the impact on the knowledge and competences obtained during the training of course participants were methodically presented. Another presentation conducted by prof. Oleksiy Togochynskyi and Stanislav Chebonenk, PhD, was devoted to the challenges that arose as a result of the pandemic. Solutions were presented that enabled the continuation of training in Ukraine despite the conditions that had to be put in place due to the pandemic i.e. social distancing, distance learning, etc. During the last workshop, representatives of the Academy of Justice:  Jarosław Rychlik, PhD, Maja Zawadzka, Amanda Perry, PhD, had the opportunity to present aspects of psychological training in the Prison Service. This workshop was devoted to the implementation of a psychological approach in training of the Prison Service staff and everyday work with prisoners. During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to get acquainted with current and practical approaches in psychological training.

On the second day, the agenda also included a visit to the headquarters of the Uniformed Campus of the Academy of Justice in Kalisz. The participants were able to see for themselves the studying conditions at the Academy of Justice and, above all, what kind of training is crucial during the studies in the Prison Service. Throughout the workshop, Krzysztof Wojcieszek, PhD, professor of the Academy of Justice, presented various training patterns related to counteracting alcoholism and addiction, being often the reason for recidivism. During the workshop, participants analysed case studies of various addictions and had the opportunity to learn about current training models for prison staff concerning preparation to counteracting inmates’ addictions. Next, the conference participants visited the Town Hall with its observation tower and were presented with the history of Kalisz. Another attraction closely related to the Prison Service was a visit to the Prison in Kalisz, which in the years 1846–2015 was a closed-type unit for men serving a custodial sentence for the first time. The external ward housed convicts qualified to serve a custodial sentences, while the semi-open type prison housed those serving their sentence for the first time. In 2020, the Academy of Justice became the owner of this Penitentiary Unit.

During the final third day, Vincenzo Abbodante, PhD, presented a speech entitled “Prison Service in Time of Covid: impact on training and teaching”. During the presentation, particular attention was paid to the complexity of the Italian prison administration, which is crucial in society and plays an important role in the criminal justice system and at the same time should not be underestimated. It was also stated that the Italian prison administration must be responsible for the way in which it exercises the powers entrusted to it. In turn, this can only happen through serious and thorough training and updating of the knowledge of prison staff. In particular, with the aim of protecting the fundamental rights of the individual and preventing serious human rights violations against detainees, whom the Italian prison administration has a duty to protect and reduce. Frantisek Vlach presented a lecture on “Innovative Approaches to Prison Staff Enhancement within International Cooperation”. The main solution to the training problem that was addressed was to break the language barrier, specifically the emphasis on learning English by the service staff. This solution has enabled prison staff to receive remote training from eminent scientists from around the world. The author mentioned the two main countries with which cooperation has developed during the pandemic, namely Romania and Germany. Marc Ceron Riera presented a speech entitled “Prison Service and virtual training: what will remain after the COVID pandemic? Lessons learnt in Catalonia”. The author described the situation in Catalonia at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and precisely how the pandemic itself has changed attitudes in the prison service and how the prison service has adapted to the changed reality. The main issues raised by the author were various forms of training requiring ‘face-to-face’ meetings in reality. The use of remote form of training, despite the difficulty caused by the lack of the possibility to hold meetings, had some advantages, including the possibility to carry out training for a larger number of people and regardless of the distances separating students and trainers. This, in turn, has increased the quality of training, thanks to the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge of outstanding specialists. The final speakers of the day who led the workshop were Laura Jeffrey, Andrea Huber and Martin Gillå from the “Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights”. The third workshop concluded by outlining guidelines and training for appropriate prison management. In addition, workshop was focused primarily on human rights issues. Key strategic priorities were put in place in prisons to help prevent torture. The workshop provided instructional materials and a training curriculum for penitentiary staff developed by ODIHR and Penal Reform International. The focus was on the revised Mandela Rules (Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners), explaining current international standards and practical guidelines for penitentiary staff and prison administration.

The annual conference ended with the election of the next president, which was the Centre of Legal Studies and Specialized Training in Catalonia.

Letter of confirmation