Magdalena Niewiadomska. Developments of the Probation Service in Poland

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1 Magdalena Niewiadomska Developments of the Probation Service in Poland I. The subject of my presentation is very general, so it means that maybe I have to present all the subject matter connected with the Probation Service in Poland which is very wide. During the consultation I had with Mr Kevin Barry, we decided that in my presentation, I have to focus on changes in the Polish probation service, that happened as the result of political transformation in Poland. Indeed, it must be said, that the same as Poland made the political transformation, the probation service in Poland, was generally reformed, as well. But it happened much more later. The most important dates for Polish policy are the years of , and for probation service, such important is the year 2002, but we should point also the year It must be underlined, that the transformation of the probation service started nearly after the political changes in Poland. The most important influence on the nowadays probation service, had the decision of Polish Government that was made in It refered to the model of probation service that used to be based on community probation officers who did welfare work. The aim of this decision was to change the model and make it based generally on professional probation officers. At the same time, in the budget of the country there was additional money for 500 new professional probation officers. It was divided between that courts which decided to change the model of the probation service. The result of it was the increase number of professional probation officers instead of the community officers. That decision was also the beginning of working upon the new act of parliament (statute), that can change the position of probation officer and the status of that profession. That was needed because of the Polish perspective of membership in European Union, as well. In 1997 the new regulation in criminal law were stated. It was the new penal code, new code of proceedings in criminal cases and the new code of execution of penalties and other measures. The new regulations were the expression of the new vision of punishment and execution of penalties and nonisolation measures and also the institution of probation. That changes were also, in some way, needed because of the process of adjusting Polish law to the standard regulations of EU. One of the results of new criminal regulations was the new role of probation officer. That thing and also the previous decision of Polish Government and finally the vision of joint EU caused the reform of probation service. First of all they refered to organization (structure) of that service and the position of probation officer, who had to managed with some new duties. The result of that all was a new act of parliament stated in 2001, which we can call - probation officer s act (statute).

2 II. To make this presentation as clear as possible, I would like to present the subject of developments of Polish probation service divided on two periods, I mean: before 1 st of January 2002, and after that day. Generally, we may say, that the changes in the probation service were made in three directions : organization (structure) of probation service, the status of probation officer and rights and duties of probation officers. We can look for the beginnings of Polish probation service in 1919, when the first probation officers for juvenile offenders were stated. There were people from the community who were trustworth, who cooperate with juvenile s courts. First professional probation officers for juvenile offenders were stated in 1929 but in 1935 the Ministry of Justice changed the position of probation officers from professional to community function. That is why till 1959 the probation service was not professional but voluntary, welfare work. The main duties of probation officer were to execute decisions made during the investigation and to supervise juveniles on probation. The probation service based only on community probation officers who did welfare work did not give as good effects as it was expected. People who were probation officers as volunteers usually had their own jobs. They did the duties of probation officers after work, as additional activity, so it had bad influence on the results of their work. That is why in 1959 the professional probation officers were employed again. Probation service for adult offenders was stated in That year the Ministry of Justice obliged probation officers to supervise offenders who were sentenced on deprivation of liberty which were conditionally suspended and also offenders who were conditionally dismissed from prisons before the end of the period they were sentenced for. The next step in development of probation service was connected with coming into force some new regulations in criminal law in 1970 ( new penal code and code of executions of penalties). They brought changes in the system of treating offenders and gave wider system of non isolation measures. In the Voievodian courts there were stated new divisions called penitentiary divisions. In that divisions there were judges who were supervisors (inspectors) and also professional probation officers. The main goal of stating that divisions was to supervise the execution of deprivation of liberty penalty but also the supervision under execution of other criminal and educational measures which were not connected with isolation (like community service, or probation). The results of it was the right of that divisions for organization and supervision under the work of probation service. Apart from professional probation officers who were employed and paied by courts, there was still a need to use community probation officers. There were much more such officers than professionals. In that way the model of probation services based on probation officers who did welfare work was created. 2

3 As the result of developing probation service and the changes in legislature in the period of there was created a structure of probation service : - Powerpoint presentation : - Ministry of Justice ( administrative supervision) - courts of Voievodship Professional and community probation officers in Penitentiary Division + Probation Officer of Voievodship court (for adults and juveniles) coordinates - Regional courts in family divisions professional and volunteers probation officers; in criminal divisions professional and volunteers probation officers probation officers in courts of voievodship, at the end of ; it was doubled in next two years, and it increased in next three years in in all courts in Poland 441. Community probation officers 12 thousand. Professional probation officers were employees of the courts. They were employed and dismissed by the presidents of courts of voievodship. Probation officers in courts of voievodship were supervised (inspected) by presidents of that courts, and probation officers in regional courts were supervised (inspected) by presidents of regional courts. At first the demandings of probation officer s qualifications were not so high. Community probation officer for adults could be the person who: was the citizen of Poland, had all public rights not restricted, had the place of living in Poland, was not sentenced for the offence, was at least 26 years old, was trustworth and gave no doubts to do his job well. Professional probation officer did not have to have university education. Probation officer for juveniles could be the person who apart from it, had parental responsibility which was not deprived or restricted. In middle 80 ties educational demandings for probation officers increased. Generally, one of the main conditions was to have university education, it means to be the master of degree in pedagogics, psychology or sociology. Apart from it was needed to had 1 year training and passed the exam after that. It must be underlined that in spite of the fact that as to the statute probation officers were employees of the courts their position was not adjusted to their duties and activity. They were treated as clerks. The position of probation officers were changed by the probation officer s act that was stated in The main duties of probation officers for adult offenders were connected with execution of non isolation penalties and measures sentenced by court. It means supervision under offender for 5 years after leaving prison, supervision under offender who were conditionally released from prison before the end of the period he was sentenced for, supervision under the offender who was sentenced for deprivation of liberty conditionally suspended, or execution of community service. At first supervisions like 5 years after leaving prison or released from prison were made by probation officers from courts of voievodship. In 80-ties they were given to probation officers in regional courts to 3

4 execute. The most of supervisions were made by community probation officers. Professionals just controlled community officers and they made the most complicated supervisions by their own. The basic duties of probation officers for juveniles was to exercise the decisions of the court made during the proceedings and after judgment and to supervise juvenile offenders. Apart from it they had to execute some judgments made in family cases, like supervision under parents who had their parental responsibility restricted or deprived and help them to exercise their rights and duties; and also control the situation of that children who were in custody, and execute some decisions of court made during the proceedings. III. As it was said, the most important changes in probation service are connected with the act of parliament probation officer s act, stated in First of all in the courts there is probation service which has its own self- government. - as a central organ - National Probation Officer s Council - on the level of the district courts the Meetings of Probation Officers from the District NPOC represent professional probation officers. It consists of the delegates elected in every district by the Meeting. In probation service now, there are professional probation officers who are supported by community probation officers, who do welfare work. Indeed there is a new model of probation service, I mean more professional than community. Nowadays, the structure of probation service in Poland is like that: Powerpoint presentation : - Ministry of Justice supervision of probation service - On the level of district courts District probation officer and vice supervise probation officers in the district on behalf of the President of District Court; District Probation Officer is appointed by the president of district court for 6 years; there are 45 District Probation Officers. - On the level of regional courts professional and community probation officers for adult offenders and juveniles; they work in teams; each team has a leader; all teams are away of divisions of the courts. Nowadays there are 481 probation officer s teams. There are three kinds of the teams, I mean one for execution of criminal judgments, one kind for execution of judgements connected with juveniles and family cases, and also join one (in small courts) where probation officers execute both types of judgments. As to the status of probation officer it must be underlined that thanks to the new act of parliament professional probation officer is the appointed official of a court what means stable position. He may be dismissed only in some special situation, like for example two negative opinion about the work or As the result of disciplinary measures. 4

5 The act guarantees probation officers very good salary, allowances for working in the field, some additional duties and the global sum for interviews during the proceedings. The time of working of probation officer is not regulated and it depends on the amount of duties to do. They have some additional days of holidays and the may take 6 months of special holidays to cure if they are really ill. The probation officer s act points high qualification for professional probation officers, like spotless character, good health, university education pedagogics, psychology, sociology, law, one year training finished by exam that must be passed. Probation officer is now called the executive organ of the court. Probation officer who brakes the duties may have disciplinary measures. /there are two levels of disciplinary courts. There are elected probation officers in these courts. The disciplinary court of second instance is in Ministry of Justice and it consists of 12 members. The main task of probation service is to influence on charges in their environment, to change his behavior. So the probation activity of probation officers is generally to supervise offender who is not incarcerated. Supervision means not only control but also means guardianship and education. To reach the goals of probation the probation officer has to cooperate with the charge s environment and institution and organizations that deals with social problems. Probation officer deals with different problems like addiction to the alcohol, drugs, family violence, pornography of children and teenagers. Probation officers cooperate with : social support centers, employment offices, family support centers, police and municipal governments. Very important is the role of non governmental organizations. Probation officer for adult offenders realize probation duties by execution of court s decisions : o conditionally discontinue the proceedings o conditionally suspension of deprivation of liberty penalty (not longer than 2 years), restriction of liberty, or fine o conditionally release from the prison before the end of the period the deprivation of liberty the offender was sentenced for o supervision under the offender who was conditionally released during the probation period Execution of that judgments demands such activities : control the behavior of the offender during probation period to apply for changing the offender s duties during probation, or to decide about supervision to apply for execution of the penalty that was conditionally suspended to execute restriction of liberty penalty 5

6 to give support for offenders and their families from postpenitentiary support fund Probation officers who execute judgements that refers to family cases realize them by : 1. supervising juvenile offenders 2. supervising the families if the parents have their parental responsibility restricted 3. cooperation with family support centers 4. cooperation with the court in cases connected with guardianship 5. execution of judgments connected with guardianship for adult who is incapacitated 6. management of probation officer s centers Structure of probation service in Poland statistics materials to hand out IV. Conclusions : The history of developments of probation service in Poland indicates, that the most important thing for the probation service is to specify the standards of probation officer s activity. It is necessary to guarantee the efficient and professional realization of the judgments. In Polish conditions we can tell about such standards : - model of probation service based on professional probation officers - high qualifications for probation officers especially in education, what guarantee professional exercise and activity, what should be joined with one year training finished by exam; permanent development of knowledge and experiences - salary adjusted to probation officer s position and complicated work, which can make this profession more attractive for well educated people - self government, to represent probation officers, V. The conclusions I have just said about are very general. But in my opinion they can be a kind of directions also for the countries which have probation service, or for that which task is to create the model of probation service. It is hardly possible to tell about the ideal model of probation service, but using the experiences of other countries it is possible to make this service better or to implement the model that works in another country. VI. At the end of this presentation it is important to find out in what way, polish probation officers can help their colleges from other countries, and what they can teach each other. I am sure it is not enough only to give some advices and point the most important things which decide about a good working model of probation service. The different things are legislature and everyday activity of probation officers and realization of judgments. 6

7 The most important thing it seems to be exchanging of information and experiences about the methods of influence on adult offenders or juveniles. It is possible just during the workshops and conferences or thanks to agreements about the cooperation between probation officers from different countries. For Polish probation officers very important seems to be exchanging of experiences connected with measures of educational and correctional influence used by probation officers, for example the programs for offenders and victims of violence, addicted offenders and so on. I hope that the good occasion for that are the workshops that are being held during this conference. 7

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