European Symposium on Detention Houses

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at the Belgian Senate in Brussels, Thursday 21 March 2024, from 9:00 to 17:30

RESCALED is organizing a Milestone Event under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2024 (EU2024BE) in Brussels. This event materializes our shared mission to place detention houses on the European agenda. We believe that transitioning from large prison institutions to small-scale detention houses aligns with the EU Council’s policy goals for a greener, fairer, and more inclusive future.

Following a pre-conference event with 50+ experts, delegates from all over Europe will be attending the Symposium, marking 21 March 2024 as a turning point for detention in Europe. The program aims to reshape the dialogue on criminal justice focusing on detention houses. Crime and its root causes find their origin in the complexity of social issues. The criminal justice system and incarceration are not isolated from our communities. As such, the key to addressing these social challenges requires a new way of thinking.

Research shows that prisons of less than 50 places provide an improved relationship between and a higher quality of life for staff and incarcerated persons. Respectful and constructive interaction increases the quality of life which in turn has been associated with reduced reoffending. Moreover, reintegration after release is facilitated by staying in touch with people from outside prison. The multitude of research and best practices already existing in various European countries support the argument that detention should be small-scale, enable differentiation at an individual level and prioritise building responsibility and mutual involvement through integration in the local community.

What does it mean to drive systemic change? How can a detention house contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? How do we avoid digital exclusion in our fast-changing world? Delving into the nuances of this, the program includes a panel session with the Ministers of Justice from Belgium, the Czech Republic and Lithuania; a keynote session with representatives from several EU Commission Directorates-General (including the EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders) and insights from individuals and organisations who are pioneering small-scale detention in Europe.

Attendees include EU and national policymakers; national prison services; probation services, and non-profit organisations active in prisons. The European Symposium on Detention Houses signifies the growth of the RESCALED Movement and is a direct outcome of what our network has achieved in the past 4 years. We would be honoured to experience this milestone with you and invite you to join us on this day.

To register for the European Symposium on Detention Houses, please fill out this registration form. Also kindly visit the event’s website, where all relevant information will be consistently updated for your convenience.