NIK about resocialisation of prisoners through employment support

Employment support to inmates is about providing conditions for employment to such persons and organising training programmes. Giving inmates the opportunity to work  is to create the sense of responsibility in them and stop them from returning to crime. This is supported by the project “Professional development of prisoners to enable their return to the labour market after imprisonment”. The project is implemented under an agreement between the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy and the Central Board of the Prison Service. The project assumed covering nearly 4 thousand training and activation cycles by the end of 2020. As a result, over 46 thousand inmates would be trained in professions enabling them to find a job while serving a sentence and after leaving a prison facility. The project also assumed hiring at least 56% of training graduates, in any legal form for an unlimited period of time, for a payment for external contractors and free of charge, e.g. for the Prison Service organisational units or for local government units.

The Prison Service was responsible for the training organisation and its settlement. Important elements of the project included identification of inmates’ professional needs and the local labour market and, in the end, employment of training graduates. The project value exceeded PLN 129 million, of which PLN 109 million came from European sources.

Key audit findings

The Prison Service identified professional needs of inmates and – in cooperation with employers and local institutions of the labour market – prepared training subjects. The majority of audited training programmes (79 of 142) dealt with general construction professions.

As part of preparation for training programmes, directors of district inspectorates of the Prison Service and prisons (apart from one unit) appointed teams to coordinate the project progress and implementation.

The recruitment of training participants was conducted properly, Over 1500 inmates were qualified for training programmes. Each of them had to meet specific conditions.

Some negligence occurred in the process of selecting training organisers. It was mainly about including the so-called social covenant being part of the Public Procurement Law. In that specific case it was assumed that contracts would be awarded to companies whose activity (or activity of their sub-units) covered social and professional integration of persons being part of socially marginalised groups, i.e. imprisoned or released from prisons. Such companies should hire not less than 30% of such persons.

Upon multiple orders of the Director General of the Prison Service, district inspectorates of the Prison Service ran tenders for the purchase of training services when using the social covenant. Those orders, though, were not preceded by the evaluation of social consequences, costs and benefits of using the social covenant. None of the tenders specified the way in which a contractor should perform tasks related to the integration of socially marginalised groups. The terms and conditions of tenders did not provide any effective tools to impact that process. Therefore, none of the district inspectorates of the Prison Service met the condition to hire socially marginalised persons at a level not lower than 30%. As a consequence, all contracts were awarded only to one or two budget management institutions founded by the Minister of Justice, meeting the condition of hiring 30% of the excluded. In reality, however, professional training programmes were provided by subcontractors (or with their participation) to whom the said requirement did not apply. As a consequence, none of the subcontractors hired any persons from socially marginalised groups. NIK looked into 11 tender procedures in total, as a result of which agreements were signed with the training provider for over PLN 14.5 million. Only 10 employees of one budget management institution took part in the contracts execution, doing the cleaning and other types of support work. According to NIK, spending over PLN 14.5 million as part of the project did not significantly foster social and professional integration of persons from socially marginalised groups.

The negligence identified by NIK concerned the very way of conducting training programmes. It turned out that every fourth training was given part-time. The time of trainers’ absence varied and ranged from a dozen or so minutes to several hours per day. It means that trainers received inflated compensation, in one case by over PLN 28 thousand. It was the case because the Director General of the Prison Service did not commit prison directors to verify if the training documentation was consistent with the prison’s internal documentation. As a consequence, although the prison directors were obliged to inform the directors of district inspectorates of the Prison Service of any difficulties and delays in the performance of training agreements, the discrepancies were not identified in prisons and thus were not reported to district inspectorates of the Prison Service. According to NIK it shows that the supervision exercised by the Prison Service over training programmes was not fully effective.

Over 39 thousand inmates were trained in the course of nearly 3.3 thousand training sessions as part of the project “Professional development of prisoners to enable their return to the labour market after imprisonment”. Each training graduate received a confirmation and a certificate. Neither of these documents contained information that it was acquired while serving the sentence but it included a note saying that the training was co-financed by the European Union. Nearly 28.2 inmates found a job. In all prisons, inmates were referred to a job after the training. NIK audited the sample of over 1500 inmates who completed training programmes. As much as 80% of them were referred to a job. In case of one prison, less than a half of training graduates found a job. In most cases the employment ratio ranged from 61.4% to 98.9%. In over 70% of cases that work was unpaid. In the great majority of cases (75%) a given  prison facility was the employer, whereas every fourth inmate worked for a prison work facility or a local entrepreneur.

Each inmate who worked without being paid was hired on a part-time basis, for not more than 90 hours a month, which was consistent with the Executive Penal Code. The amount of paid working time was adjusted to employer’s needs and ranged from ½ to 1 FTE. Since the project did not specify any requirements as to the employment period, it varied and ranged from one day to more than 12 months. None of the inmates worked with more than one employer.

Every fifth inmate was hired not in line with the subject of completed training programme. The most frequent causes included the absence of positions corresponding with training direction and educational factors. Such discrepancies were not identified only in four audited prisons.

NIK has also noted that the project did not assume monitoring the employment history of its participants after leaving the prison. As a consequence, the audited facilities lacked information about the employment of such persons after the end of imprisonment.

Recommendations

to the Minister of Family and Social Policy:

  • verify achievement of the assumed ratio „The number of prisoners and former prisoners working after quitting the programme (including prisoners working on their own account”);
  • verify adequacy of spending related to the performance of agreements signed by district inspectorates of the Prison Service related to the organisation and conduct of training programmes.

to the Director General of the Prison Service – to verify on a comprehensive basis the legitimacy of using the social covenant when awarding public contracts related to the organisation and conduct of training programmes.

Article informations

Date of creation:
22 June 2021 00:29
Date of publication:
22 June 2021 00:29
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
22 June 2021 00:30
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska
The hand of a man locking the door of a prison facility where prisoners are working (probably making tables) © Adobe Stock

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