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Work and Education in the Prison System in Turkey

Project facts

  • Funder: NL EVD International – MPAP
  • Partner(s): Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI), Dutch Education Department of the Prison Service (OI DJI), General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses, Turkish Ministry of Justice, Educational Research and Development Directorate, Turkish Ministry of National Education
  • Project period: October 2009 – June 2012
  • For information mail to:

The Turkish authorities have put much effort in reforming their prison system over the past decade, striving to make it meet the requirements of the European prison rules. The project team that visited Turkey in early 2009, in preparation of this project, was impressed by the results. However, in spite of all the reform efforts, the notion of imprisonment as a form of punishment rather than rehabilitation is still prevailing, which has implications for the way prisoners are treated.

This project was conceived with the aim of contributing to the reform of the Turkish prison system by strengthening the process for rehabilitation. More specifically, this involved creating a program for inmates of three selected pilot prisons for juveniles or females, in which they can acquire new skills and thereby gain a better perspective for life after their release. The approach was new to both prison staff and management, so the project addressed the training needs of both. Other project activities included research, and the development of a curriculum for vocational workshops. Through these activities, the program was implemented in four pilot prisons, where workshops are now given to teach inmates skills with pastry, silver/semi-precious stones, welding and leather.

According to the prison staff, the workshop experience provides the inmates with new communication and co-operation skills and makes them aware of the importance of hygiene and time-management. This has a positive impact on their self-confidence and discipline. Inmates benefit from better perspective after their release as a result of certification and new skills. The project has also provided the staff and management of these selected prisons with the necessary experience and tools to train colleagues in other institutions, which they can now set up without the need for further external assistance. The project also contributed to enhanced cooperation at the government level, as this was the first time the Turkish Ministry of Justice and Ministry of National Education worked together in this way.