Violence in prison has no single cause, nor is there a simple solution for its prevention. Contributing factors to prison violence are numerous. Essential for its reduction are good prisoner-staff relationships, the institutional culture as well as the perceived quality of life within the prison walls, among both prisoners and staff.
During May and June 2020, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, Human Dignity and Public Security Department, has been conducting a series of three online expert meetings on “Monitoring Violence in Prison” within the framework of the EU funded project “Working towards harmonized detention standards in the EU – the role of NPMs”.
Participants included representatives of 15 EU National Preventive Mechanisms and other monitoring and prison experts from APT, Council of Europe, CPT, UNODC and Advisory Board Members to the project Dirk van Zyl Smit, Nora Sveaass and Alison Liebling. Prof Liebling presented her research on “what matters” in prisons and how to assess the quality of life in prisons through appreciative inquiry, an innovative method to use by NPMs in order to find out more about “what works” to prevent torture and ill-treatment in places of detention.
The project research on prison violence will continue until the end of 2020. The research findings will be published in a handbook intended to support the work of the National Preventive Mechanisms throughout the European Union.