Study visit to the General Secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions of Spain


EU-ACT organised a study visit of an Ukrainian delegation to the General Secretatiat of Penitentiary Institutions of Spain, from 25th to 27th June 2019 in Madrid.

The main objective of the visit was to know first-hand the Spanish approach to the complex management of Drug addictions with inmates. The activity is embedded in the current Rehabilitation Program for inmates with mental disorders due to the use of psychoactive substances for the State Criminal Executive Service - Ministry of Justice (MoJ)- of Ukraine. It is one of the main projects that the EU-ACT Project is currently developing.

In this visit participated the Deputy Ministry of Justice, leader of the Ukrainian Prison Reform Passport. The Passport is an Action Plan which involves public institutions, civil society, and International Organizations. One of the objectives contained in this Passport is the mentioned EU-ACT rehabilitation project.

They participated also high officers from the MoJ, the Deputy Head of the State Criminal Executive Service of Ukraine (Prison Department), the senior prosecutor in charge of prisons supervision in the Region of Kiev, a psychologist and psychiatric, as experts that are implementing and supporting the implementation of the program in Ukraine in the prisons.

It started with an Institutional meeting with the General Secretary of "Instituciones Penitenciarias" (Spanish Ministry of Interior) and an overview of the system in the HQ of this Institution. During these presentations, after a general overview, the discussions focused on treatment programs for inmates.

The delegation also visited the Center Madrid IV (Navalcarnero, Madrid). This Penitentiary Centre is a "Regular Regime PrisonThe focus was a "module free of drugs" where the convicts engage in voluntary drug rehabilitation programs. The delegation visited all the facilities of the Prison: classrooms, cooking facilities, sports facilities, swimming pool, theatre, infirmary, medical facilities and also the cells. They spent some time in the yard with the inmates, and they had the opportunity to talk with them and make questions while they were participating in their activities: professional workshops, sports activities, and others.

One of the main points of the visit was the OST (Opioid Substitution Treatment, with Methadone and other medicines), although nowadays the rate of inmates that receive this treatment is low, it was not the case in the '90s. The OST treatment is a necessary treatment for harm reduction (to avoid HIV, HP, and TB transmission). The distribution of syringe programs (also a harm reduction initiative) is also available in those prisons where it is necessary. It is something not foreseen in Ukraine.

The delegation visited the NGO "BASIDA" in Aranjuez (Madrid), a residential community with professional volunteers (doctors, social workers, psychologists...) living in the same institution with the patients .This Community provides living conditions and rehabilitation to evited drug addicts (convicts and no convicts), including inmates that can serve their sentence here. In the vast majority were terminal HIV sick inmates who passed their latest days in these facilities. They live in a familiar environment (some of then with kids).

The delegation also visited a Municipal Centre where addicts received a set of treatment, also OST, syringe exchange... The current approach is not to the substance but the social and psychological reasons for addictions (including not only substance addictions). An addicted is considered a sick person and addition is just the tip of de iceberg. Addiction is a symptom of mental disease or other psychological or social problems.

Ukrainians fully agree with the vision in Spain, but they recognized that the politicians and society in Ukraine do not share this point of view. On the other hand, the evidence of the economic benefit (in terms of money) but also of "social suffering" are clear.