Minister Zarkov: The half way house to the prison in Burgas will help reduce recidivism

13-01-2023 10:29

“For the first time in Bulgaria, a new model of working with the prisoners can be implemented through a half way house. Half way house literally means a house in the middle of the road. Halfway between prison and freedom. This should ensure that those who get out of there will not go back to prison. This is important not only for the prisoners and the staff who work with them on a daily basis, but also for people outside the prison who may fall victim to further crime. We are confident that the half way house will help to reduce recidivism, while meeting the highest standards of humanity and security.”

This was stated today by Justice Minister Krum Zarkov at the start of construction works, which began the building of the first transitional ward in Bulgaria - the so-called half way house.

The event today was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Justice Maria Pavlova, the Director General of the General Directorate for Execution of Penalties, Chief Commissioner Ivaylo Yordanov, the head of the project, Commissioner Nina Glavchovska, the head of the Burgas Prison Chief Commissioner Jancho Zhelev, the Regional Governor Maria Neykova and the head of the Burgas Regional Prosecutor’s Office Georgi Chinev.

The half way house will be located in the Stroitel Open-Type Prison Hostel at the Burgas Prison.

In nearly 400 working days the prison hostel next to the prison is to be renovated and a new half way house, administrative part and a stall for the prisoners are to be built in its yard. 

With the first steps in the introduction of the half way house in the penitentiary system in our country, the basis of a new social-integration concept for the preparation of the prisoners is laid. It aims at their adaptation and integration into society after release, and this model will be applied in the reintegration process of the prisoners precisely during the period when they still need support. The desired outcome is to reduce the risk of recidivism, as opposed to cases where the prisoners are released directly. Such reintegration programmes are well known and have been actively used worldwide for years.

The conceptual design in Burgas envisages the half way house to include conditions and facilities close to the family environment: a lobby; four rooms with two beds and a bathroom in each; a room with two beds and a bathroom for prisoners in disadvantaged situations; a common kitchen with a dining room where they can prepare their own meals; a common living space; a meeting room; a laundry room and a staff room. The parkland in the area of the half way house and the prison hostel will be improved. 

The funds are under the project “Ensuring a safe and secure material environment in prisons and detention facilities” under Programme Area 19 “Correctional Services and Pre-trial Detention” of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 and amount to BGN 1,287,309 including VAT. Under the same project, similar transitional wards will be set up in the Hebros and Samoranovo prison hostels, respectively in Plovdiv and Bobov Dol prisons.

Later in the day, Minister Zarkov and members of his team were in the prison in Burgas, where they became acquainted with the working conditions of the staff, as well as the conditions under which the prisoners are serving sentences in one of the busiest prisons in the country. He also visited the Prison Hostel in the village of Debelt.