How to ensure effects of the quality preparation for release of violent extremist prisoners (VEPs), vulnerable and marginalised prisoners at risk from radicalisation are kept up upon their release, was in the focus of the first regional conference “Challenges to ensuring prison exit continuum of VEPs/VEOs, vulnerable and marginalised prisoners at risk from radicalisation in the Western Balkans” held on 22 June 2023 in Durres, Albania, with the support of EU and Council of Europe.
More than forty (40) professionals from the Western Balkans Beneficiaries, coming from penitentiary, the social welfare and protection sectors, education for adults, bureaus for employment, civil society organization active in P/CVE and post-penal assistance to former detainees - learned about key approaches and best practices in preparation for release of VEPs, vulnerable and marginalized prisoners at risk from radicalisation in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the region.
What the quality pre-release program implies; what are best practices of exit programs in EU; how can occupational/vocational or working opportunities in prisons be supportive to disengagement from violence and to employment prospects of the prisoners upon release, – were just a few out of many issues discussed during the regional conference.
During the forum the participants had the opportunity to present and discuss key challenges they have faced in the process of ensuring an effective preparation for release of violent extremist prisoners (VEPs), vulnerable and marginalised prisoners at risk from radicalization. In addition certain main preconditions were re-affirmed, and a set of conclusions were unanimously adopted among which are necessity for quality preparation for release and thorough risk assessment of a prisoner, well-coordinated approach between different stakeholders supporting the post-penal, social reintegration, effective and timely information exchange between them and importance of provision of occupational, vocational or education opportunities for prisoners and its benefits for their employment prospects upon return to communities.
The conference was organized under the regional action “Enhancing co-operation in the Western Balkans in managing violent extremism in prisons and preventing further radicalisation after release” implemented under Horizontal Facility Phase III for the Western Balkans and Türkiye, co-funded by EU and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe.