Prison Achievement Award 2022

In 2022 we introduced for the first time the annual 'Prison Achievement Award' which is awarded to a European prison. At EuroPris, we want to highlight and celebrate developments, overcoming challenges, and initiatives that have been implemented in prisons across Europe. We know from our engagement with prison services that there are many excellent examples of practice and innovation which have been implemented in recent years. Below you will find descriptions of the winner and shortlisted candidates from 2022.


Winner of Prison Achievement Award 2022

Prison Veenhuizen - Netherlands

Innovation lab - A unique collaboration between the prison in Veenhuizen and the Hanze University Groningen


Congratulations to Prison Veenhuizen in the Netherlands for winning the first Prison Achievement Award in 2022 for their concept of "Innovation Lab" - a unique collaboration between the prison in Veenhuizen and the Hanze University Groningen.


In 2018, researchers from Hanze University and prison staff built a so-called “innovation lab” together with managers from prison Veenhuizen and managers from Hanze University. This innovation lab is part of the prison, a place for research and experience to interact, a place where students, prison staff, prisoners, and researchers meet. Through this co-creation, prison Veenhuizen implements a new way of family approach, but through this collaboration, prison Veenhuizen is culturally able to further innovate in other ways. 


The initiative for which the penitentiary institution and the University of applied sciences are awarded is the Innovation Lab on the Family Approach in Prison Veenhuizen. This innovation lab has been operating since 2018 and from this location, about 140 students from various disciplines of Hanze University of Applied Sciences have contributed to the further development of the family approach in recent years. For example, the students conduct practice-oriented research and, together with prison staff, develop all kinds of projects and products that can be used to improve the contact between a child and its detained father.

At the 12th Annual General Meeting in Berlin 2023, a video was presented to the Director Generals of European prison services about the recent developments in the Prison Veenhuizen. Click here to view the video:

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Marie-Anne de Groot (Prison Veenhuizen) and Eric Blaauw (Hanzehogeschool Groningen) received the Prison Achievement Award 2022 at the EuroPris Annual General Meeting in Sevilla.

Shortlisted Candidates

Castelo Branco Prison - Portugal

Involve prisoners in the development of ICT devices to assist disabled people

The students of a professional course of Information Technology (IT) at the prison school in Castelo Branco (Portugal) developed a prototype for an Adaptive Console, in order to respond positively to the challenge, set out by the +Power Project. The project aims to provide the creation and share interactive digital educational resources and their supporting technologies, assist disabled people through the recycling of computer materials, promote the reintegration of the prisoner, social inclusion, and volunteering of all those who wish to associate themselves with a cause of humanistic values. As a result of this project, 4% of students have pursued higher education studies and more than 67% are integrated into the labour market. This translates as a good practice of social and school reintegration, reducing recidivism and consequently reducing crime, increasing the safety and well-being of communities. 

Jirice Prison - Czech Republic

Jirice Open Prison, an imitation of life outside prison


The project was established to create an open prison that prepares inmates for life in the community with the main focus on abilities and skills to assess, plan and make decisions about everyday life tasks and issues. The Open Prison imitates a life outside the prison: employment, duties after return from work, ensuring everyday functioning of home, and effective spending of leisure time. The Open Prison concept combines innovative forms of treatment of convicts, an enhanced environment, and elements of zootherapy. Professional treatment based on guidance and coaching, and not on orders, enables inmates to carefully analyse the issues first and provides space for searching for ideal solutions, all with the support of professional staff members. Practice shows that in case an inmate is able to define the problem and find an appropriate solution himself, then he probably will be able to do so in real life after the release. His risk of reoffending then significantly decreases. The research results proved that the main goal of the project which is the reduction of recidivism is successfully fulfilled.

Pfäffikon Prison - Switzerland

Reinventing pre-trial detention in Zurich - how a heavily criticised remand prison became a path-breaking institution


One-third of all detainees in Switzerland are in pre-trial detention. According to Eurostat, this is one of the highest rates in Europe. Pre-trial detention is known as the harshest and most rigid form of detention. Persons in pre-trial detention are under criminal investigation after their arrest. This can last from a few days to several years. That’s possible because by law there is no absolute maximum duration of pre-trial detention in Switzerland. All persons in pre-trial detention are presumed innocent. Before the reorganisation, the cell doors in pre-trial detention at Pfäffikon prison, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland, were closed for 23 hours a day for the majority of the detainees. With an extraordinary effort, the team of Pfäffikon prison revolutionised the running of a remand prison in Switzerland within a short time in demanding circumstances. Changes had to be made. Just to name a few, today the cell doors are open - up to nine hours a day (including working in cells). The detained men move around in the corridors, go for a walk and play ping-pong or basketball in the yard. Everyone is greeted in a friendly manner. It is quiet. Not only the volume - also the atmosphere. Group custody makes it possible for the incarcerated people to structure the long day in prison. For many, the day begins with going out into the yard to smoke as soon as the doors open at 7 am. The daily life of the imprisoned persons should come as close as possible to life outside and offer them small social learning fields. They have to become active themselves in order to make their life in prison more pleasant. The profound change in the remand prison in Pfäffikon shows that the renaming of the responsible authority into the Office of Corrections and Reintegration did not remain empty words, but that the fundamental goal of the penal system, the reintegration, already begins with the arrest and placement in remand prison.

Olaine Prison - Latvia

Addiction Centre of Olaine prison focuses on implementation of social rehabilitation


Photo: Māra Rozenberga/Latvijas Radio

At the Addiction Centre of Olaine Prison (Latvian Prison Hospital), social rehabilitation of sentenced inmates is implemented, a programme for reducing addictions. Inmates are involved in a set of targeted and structured measures for the development of social skills, improvement of the behavioural pattern and the formation of a socially supportive value system. The Addiction Centre in Latvia is described as a "Laboratory for Positive Change" because the new concept of execution of sentences implemented there leads to significant positive changes in all areas of the sentenced prisoners' lives, thus empowering the programme, participants manage their lives better and, upon release, no longer allow substance abuse to have a negative impact on their lives. The addiction Centre at Olaine Prison is an illustration of the fact that imprisonment is not revenge, but a way for the state to teach offenders the skills to live independently without committing crimes. With the establishment of the Addiction Centre in Olaine Prison, unprecedented changes have taken place in the Latvian prison system.


The Jury reviewed applications from 24 candidates. The jury members are: 

  • Olivia Rope (Penal Reform International)
  • Torben Adams (UNODC)
  • Ilina Taneva (CoE)
  • Peter van der Sande (Formerly: Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency)
  • Adriano Martufi (Leiden University)

Selection Process

All projects deemed eligible were considered by an independent Jury who will make recommendation in relation to the overall award winner. The Jury will consisted of 3-5 impartial Jury members. They will not be a current employee of a European prison service. The Jury’s work was by a chairperson. 

Presentation of Award

The chairperson of the Jury presented the award at the EuroPris AGM. The practitioner/representative from the awarded prison was invited to join the EuroPris Annual General Meeting on 20 June 2022 to present their work and receive the Prison Achievement Award. 


The developments taking place within prisons are wide ranging and have resulted in positive and tangible improvements for the prison community.  


We know that there are significant examples of first-class practice among your prisons and services. From improvements of prisoners’ regimes, access and participation in education, cooperation with external services and stakeholders, healthcare, through care and reintegration pathways, to innovative improvements in buildings and infrastructure, digitalisation and physical conditions, to better staff support and wellbeing, to positive changes in culture.


Given that work takes place behind walls and rarely gets the public attention it deserves, we believe an annual award will help to highlight and shine a spotlight on your prisons’ success and achievements. 


The Prison Achievement Award will bring these initiatives into the open, facilitating mutual learning between European prison services and raise awareness of how prisons come up with solutions which will unite our network. 

Eligibility Criteria for Nominations 

In order to be deemed eligible for consideration, your nomination should meet all of the following criteria: 

  • European - Prisons from correctional services in the Council of Europe region.  
  • Local - Significant development of a correctional facility at a local level, not a national prison service. 
  • Impactful - Results should show improvement and impact in one or more clearly defined areas.  
  • Sustainable - Results need to be possible to maintain over time, not a (temporary) project which ends with its funding. 
  • Recent - Development must have been implemented in the last 5 years. 


Preferred but not required: 

  • A New Departure - Change is unique, original or highly innovative. 


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