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Management Capacity Building in the North Macedonian Prison Service

Project facts

  • Funder: NL EVD International
  • Partner(s): Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI), Directorate of Prison Administration, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of North Macedonia
  • Project Period: November 2010 – September 2011
  • For information mail to:

The North Macedonian prison system has many issues that need improvement, such as overcrowding in prisons, conditions of detention, health care, and treatment of vulnerable groups of prisoners. These problems were pointed out most recently before the start of this project in a report published on an ad-hoc visit by the Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee. Noted as an obstacle to improvement were the lack of management capacity and the absence of a strategic plan covering various problem areas. The North Macedonian government wants to improve its prison system, and has in the pas few years undertaken a number of activities, including specific changes in the legislation, activities for the improvement of accommodation capacity in the prisons, as well as several activities to strengthen the capacities of the staff. Furthermore, several organisations (Council of Europe, OSCE, TAIEX) have contributed to these efforts with projects providing trainings and workshops, mostly aimed at improving the treatment of convicted persons, to standardize operating procedures, and to improve the skills of the prison staff.

The NHC and the Netherlands Agency of Correctional Institutions are among the organisations that already cooperated with the North Macedonian Directorate for the Execution of Sanctions, which happened in 2009 and 2010 in the project ‘Strengthening the National Penitentiary System in Line with the International and European Standards‘. After the project ended, the Directorate identified further needs. They requested Dutch expertise for assistance in strengthening the capacity of the middle management of the North Macedonian Prison Service, in order to initiate a shift toward a more democratic, coaching management style. A lack of modern management skills, techniques and practises currently prevent middle management staff from functioning efficiently in their daily tasks and from achieving a joint approach to the problems in the prison system.

This project consisted of three cycles of trainings for the heads of treatment and security staff, focussed on leadership styles and their impact on those who are part of the team. They taught the knowledge and skills necessary to move towards a more systematic approach to management. The trainings started in Skopje in December 2010 and every prison was represented either by the head of the security or resocialization section. In total 21 heads of treatment and security staff representing all North Macedonian penitentiary institutions participated.

The project achieved a considerable improvement of the managerial qualities of the middle prison management. They successfully developed a coaching management style and a proactive management attitude, which helped the participants make the adjustment from working alongside their colleagues to managing and motivating them. The project also taught the North Macedonian Prison Management to implement processes and protocols as a means to achieve their policy goals within the coming period.