• Українською
  • Ukrainian Penitentiary System Reform

    This reform is aimed at the development of a humanistic penal correction system to create a safe and secure society and ensure social healing.

    Key Results

    • A pilot project Paid Wards in Pre-trial Detention Centres was implemented in 19 pre-trial detention centres in Ukraine offering a new service — payment for the use of a paid ward in advance (the service can be used within 6 months of the payment date). The project has already helped to raise over UAH 378,800 as payment for the use of such wards and to repair 3 regular wards in the Kyiv pre-trial detention centre.

    • 27 penitentiary facilities have been closed down over the past 4 years and at least 8 more facilities are expected to be closed in the future.

    • A large infrastructure project has been developed for relocating pre-trial detention centres from the central areas of the cities to suburbs or outside the urban settings.

    • The Government has developed a draft law on private pre-trial detention centre cooperation with the private sector.

    • A pilot project has been introduced and the test operation of the Unified Register of Convicts and Detainees has been extended in the Kyiv pre-trial detention centre and subdivisions of State-owned Institution “Probation Centre” affiliates.

    • As part of the pilot project, the restorative justice programme for juveniles suspected of minor to medium offences for the first time has been introduced in 6 regions of Ukraine. Once implemented throughout Ukraine this project is expected to allow removing criminal liability from more than 1,500 children.

    • Measures have been taken to prevent the spread of acute respiratory disease COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in pre-trial detention centres and penitentiary facilities by restricting any movement of detainees and convicts for the quarantine period and by reducing the number of persons held there. (The Government has approved and registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine the respective bill (registration No. 3396 of 27 April 2020).

    • Convicts have been given authorisation to use tablet computers so that they can exercise their right to correspond, submit online appeals and access socially significant information; this promotes the development and resocialisation of prisoners.

    • Video monitoring centres have been established at all interregional offices and each facility (to timely detect and prevent breach of internal rules by convicts and to improve the efficiency of the staff).

    • Probation programmes have been developed and put in place to work with adult and juvenile probation subjects.

    • Penitentiary probation has been introduced to provide support and assistance in addressing social and welfare issues to convicts who are preparing to be released, to improve their social rehabilitation and prevent recidivism.

    • Model probation offices have been opened in Kharkiv and Bila Tserkva.

    • Juvenile probation centres have been established for better protection of interests of children in conflict with the law.

    • Counselling offices have been opened in probation units to work with subjects who have HIV, tuberculosis or viral hepatitis C infection.

    Why change anything?

    • The tools to motivate convicts to work, training and taking part in correctional and rehabilitation and other programmes are inefficient and there are not enough competent specialists to implement those programmes properly.

    • There is no mechanism for resocialising of former prisoners which could help reduce the risk of new crimes through welfare arrangements (socially useful contacts, housing, work, addiction treatment, etc.).

    • The conditions of detention, healthcare and logistic support of convicts and prisoners fail not meet current requirements and the European Prison Rules meaning poor rehabilitation of convicts.

    What does the reform include?

    Individualisation of the penal system and expanding of the list of alternatives to imprisonment

    It is expected to reduce the number of persons sentenced to imprisonment, abolish restriction of liberty as a type of punishment to help save budget funds for imprisonment and ensure more efficient rehabilitation through the use of alternative punishments without isolating persons from society.

    Launching effective tools for changing the behaviour, correction and resocialisation of persons in conflict with the law (labour, correctional and educational programs), and providing support and assistance to prisoners who are preparing for release

    This goal will help reduce recidivism through the introduction of risk assessment, efficient correctional and rehabilitation programmes, and giving support and assistance in addressing social and welfare issues to prisoners who are preparing for release, and improving the interaction between penitentiary facilities, probation bodies and social work entities throughout such preparation.

    Improving streamlined pre-trial investigations, criminal proceedings and jury administration in cases of particularly serious crimes

    Adopting the necessary laws will allow to conduct quality investigation of offences, improve criminal proceedings for collegiate courts and jury courts, distinguish the jury and professional judge functions, carry out proceedings in such cases within a reasonable time; the jury list forming process has been simplified 

    Creating adequate conditions of detention in penitentiary and temporary holding facilities

    To achieve this goal, it is planned to close down/liquidate penitentiary facilities to minimise the prison system costs and improve conditions of detention; construct new modern pre-trial detention centres, make free wards more comfortable by the use of proceeds from the Paid Wards in Pre-trial Detention Centres project.

    Launching transparent and efficient processes for the prevention and combating torture and ill-treatment in prisons and pre-trial detention facilities

    It is important to respect the rights of convicts and prisoners and to combat/prevent torture and ill-treatment. To achieve this goal, the internal control system must be improved and GPS-trackers and badge cameras must be provided to the staff of penitentiary and temporary holding facilities for recording each bodily injury caused to convicts and prisoners.

    Developing IT infrastructure and digitalisation of the penitentiary system, including enhancement and updating the Unified Register of Convicts and Detainees, and electronic monitoring of probation subjects

    It is expected to create a single convict and prisoner database, increase the number of probation subjects under electronic monitoring, and control offenders efficiently without isolating them from society.

    Launching an automated system for assessing the risk of a new crime and the risk of breach of pre-trial restrictions or parole

    This system will ensure the transparency and independence (minimise corruption) of pre-trial restrictions or parole due to automated data processing and forecasting/prevention of new crimes.

    Offering adequate healthcare in penitentiary and temporary holding facilities in accordance with the national and international standards

    An important task within this goal is to provide convicts with quality medical services thereby reducing the incidence of communicable diseases in prisoners or detainees.

    Goals and Objectives

    • Expanding the list of punishment alternatives to imprisonment and the implementation practices.

    • Updating the Unified Register of Convicts and Detainees to create a single convict and prisoner database.

    • Improving streamlined pre-trial investigations and criminal proceedings.

    • Improving criminal proceedings and jury administration in cases of particularly serious crimes.

    • Establishing a system of restorative justice for juveniles.

    • Defining the optimal number of penitentiary facilities to minimise the penal system costs.

    • Launching a dual system of regular penitentiary inspections and developing standards for assessing the performance of penitentiary and temporary holding facilities.

    • Opening the sale of closed down penitentiary facilities at Prozorro.Sale open electronic auctions.

    Entities involved in the reform implementation

    The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Norwegian Rule of Law Mission to Ukraine, Zarady Zhyttia Project, PRAVO JUSTICE, Support to Ukraine’s Reforms for Governance (SURGe), The EU Action against Drugs and Organised Crime (EU-ACT), an intensive cooperation and capacity building to combat organised crime in drug trafficking along the heroin route.

    Key documents and useful links