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Interview with Prison Expert Edward Lucaci

28 June 2016

Edward Lucaci is a Prison Expert of the project ‘Support to the enforcement probation and rehabilitation system’ in Moldova. What are his experiences in the field and what do his activities entail? Lucaci illuminates.

What is the project about?

This project focuses on probation, intramural and extramural rehabilitation of former offenders and the enforcement of civil court decisions. It is one of three parallel EU funded projects that aim to strengthen the Moldovan justice system. These projects contribute to the implementation of the comprehensive Strategy for Justice Sector Reform and the Moldovan Government Programme.

What are the main challenges the penitentiary system in Moldova faces?

“The penitentiary system lacks personnel at all levels of the organization. Furthermore, the current employees are often not sufficiently motived. There is a lack of useful procedures, methodologies and modern tools for specific activities. Inmates do not have enough access to educational and vocational programs. Moreover, the prisons are overcrowded. Overall, one can say that the infrastructure of the penitentiary system is not as good as it should be.”

What activities do you execute as a coordinator?

“Together with the project experts I assess the current issues, gaps, challenges and opportunities of the system. Next, I coordinate the implementation of the experts recommendations, activities that aim to improve the capacity of the new procedures and methodologies and the organization of the human resources process. The coordination of specific trainings and the short term experts missions are part of my job as well. Moreover, I make sure that there is a permanent liaison between the project with the Penitentiary Department, Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders.”

Are people in Moldova aware of these problems?

“I would say they are. However, this does not mean that they get much involved in these matters. The general pubic opinion is that a lengthy punishment is the best cure in order to combat crime. One can notice this view in the verdicts of judges as well. They tend to give relatively long and severe prison sentences regardless of the severity of the crimes committed.”

In what way does the work you are executing on behalf of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee contribute to effacing the current problems?

“The aim of the work we execute is to offer assistance to the justice system. This includes penitentiary, probation and enforcement. Our assistance entails among others analyzing the current problems and making recommendations for change. Moreover, we guide the people in the field in their development of useful procedures, methodologies, training and other tools. Furthermore, we coordinate the human resources management and assist in the development of individual treatment plans for inmates.”

What is the current state of affairs of the implementation of envisioned changes?

“More time is needed to get the work done. There is still resistance to change the system. This slows down the entire process we are engaged in. Interventions are needed in a wide array of institutions and other elements that are part of this field such as operational procedures, standards and activities, human resources management, legal adjustments, individual treatment plans, ethics, communication, public awareness, cooperation with NGOs and civil society, statistics, human rights, strengthening the Training Centre, financial management, disciplinary mechanisms. A better integration of the information system and the fight against corruption, ill treatment and torture are part of this as well.”

You are originally from Romania. Do you see similarities between the problems in the judicial system of Moldova and Romania?

“Yes, there are similarities. During the transition period in Romania from militarization to demilitarization, the country faced problems that can be compared to the problems that Moldova is currently facing. However, the comparison is not flawless. There are differences when it comes to among others the (de)motivation of the personnel.”

More information about the project:

More information about Edward Lucaci: lucaci-edward-634540b