Successful prison project in the Danube delta

Financed by € 500.000 from the Norway Grants a project at the prison on the Tătaru Island in the Danube delta has strengthened the capacity of the Romanian penitentiary system to facilitate reintegration of inmates after release. The achievements were highlighted during the closing conference held 29 September.

A high number of inmates have limited skills necessary for the labour market, preventing them to access jobs and thus represent a high risk of re-offending. This project provided training to the inmates in eco-construction and traditional crafts in an open environment. Another aim for the project has been to raise the public awareness regarding the necessity of society's involvement at large in inmates' reintegration process.

"The Bastøy model" used in a prison on an island outside Oslo in Norway, has inspired the project in Tataru Island. Bastøy is the biggest low security prison in Norway. In Europe the relapse rate is about 70 percent on average, but for the inmates of Bastøy, the rate is under 20 percent.

- A traditional prison hurts people. I see this prison model as a means to help the inmates recover and to rebuild self-esteem in order to stand upright when they leave this place. From this comes lower rate of relapse, said Arne Kvernvik Nilsen. Nilsen has been involved by sharing his knowledge and experience from his position as the prison governor of Bastøy prison island between 2008 and 2013, where he has particularly contributed in the training of the Romanian prison staff.

Five eco-houses have been built by the inmates and the project is funded by the Norway Grants within the priority sector "Justice and Home Affairs”.

Cosmin Haralampie is serving an eight year long sentence at Tulcea Prison. The 23 year old is of Roma origin, and finished a training course in eco-construction in 2015. While he was reluctant at first to participate in the training, Haralampie now sees the value of acquiring new skills that could help facilitate his social reintegration:  

 “I’ve learnt something, and I’ve obtained a diploma. I can build an ecological house. Now I have a plan for the future.”

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