This present final report is an analysis of results of all the activities and the extend of implementation of the preset objectives.
Main objects of the project were to increase the focus toward the vulnerable groups in prisons, namely, foreigners and Roma, as well as to assist the process of successful resocialization of the imprisoned through development and application of specialized program for character transformation, consisting of workshop activities in:
- management of personal finances
- building up of leadership skills
- personal socio-psychological meetings
- festive family gatherings.
In order to establish how effective is the project and if achieving the preset objectives, researched were:
- the extend of engagement of the target group (the imprisoned at the Sofia Central Prison with special attention on two marginalized groups: Roma and foreigners and individuals who have already served their time)
- evaluation of the participants in regards to the quality and usefulness of the information included in the seminars and the art workshops
- evaluation of the work of the facilitators
- plans and expectations of the representatives of the target group for their life in freedom
- the mindsets for change and willingness to take on a new way
- readiness of the participants in the different activities to share the gained experience with other imprisoned
For the objectives of the monitoring analysis there have been used two methods: inquiry (quantitative method) and focus groups (qualitative method). Furthermore, using analysis of the data provided in a Report of the Head Department for “Execution of sentences” (HDES).
REPORT OF HDES
The information from the report of Head Department for Execution of Sentences shows that total of 218 imprisoned, serving their sentences at Sofia Central Prison have attended the different activities part of the project “The way of the new beginning”. The personal socio-psychological meetings were the most preferred activity. More than half of them (121 people) joined in. Next position is taken by the seminar for leadership skills (65 people). The greater interest is probably due to several reasons. On one hand, because of the isolation and the limited circle of contacts, they probably see the personal meetings as an opportunity to increase their connection with the outside world, as well as to receive the necessary social and psychological support. Ivodor Kovachev, who has many years of experience in the work with imprisoned, explains the interest in the leadership skills course to the fact, that a big number of these people have the disposition of leaders. On the other hand, we need to make notice that both of the activities are facilitated by Ivodor Kovachev, who due to the more than 18 years consistency and work with this target group has succeeded to win respect and trust amongst the bigger part of its members. From Figure 1 we can see what was the interest and attendance of all the activities from the project, implemented at the premises of Sofia Central Prison. The analysis of data furthermore shows that 1/3 have participated in more than one activity. Eleven out of the total 32 have attended the three family gathering held within the framework of the project, and 9 – at two of them. Based on that information we can conclude that the family for these people and the restoration of the broken relationships are priority.
In the activities outside prison participated 12 people, who have served their sentences and are already free, as well as the wives of two of them. In this group there is not specifically displayed preferences toward some of the offered opportunities to them: seminar for management of personal finances (11 people), seminar for “Leadership skills” (13), entrepreneurship (10) and coaching sessions (5). (Fig. 2) Three of the activities – choir singing, dancing, fine and applied arts were geared toward their children and toward children of imprisoned individuals. The main objective for this setting was to involve the whole family in the process of resocialization of the one who already served their time, as well as to provide specific help to the families, since it would have been very difficult to impossible to provide for their children this type of after class art activities. Five families responded to the presented possibility and total of 6 children attended the activities.
The project includes three inquiries – entry, interim and final. The final inquiry, presented and analyzed here, has the objective to establish the extend of implementation of the preset goals for the project, investigating the level of satisfaction of the imprisoned who participate in the different activities of the project “The way of the new beginning” and their willingness to change their old style of living. It consists of 14 questions as two of them have a free style answer and 12 – multiple choice answers. It was given to the prisoners on paper. The total number of filled out and valid inquiries is 51. The average age of the inquired is 36; the youngest is 19 yo and the oldes – 64 yo. The married and the ones living with a partner are 19; the singles are 22. Six are divorced, three – widowers and one has not indicated his family status. (Fig. 3)
In regards to the ethnical belonging – four have identified themselves as Roma, which 9% of all inquired. As it was already mentioned in the previous reports, there isn’t an official statistic concerning ethnic background of the people serving time. By unofficial the Roma prisoners are twice as much as the Bulgarians. However, since most of them prefer to self-identify as Bulgarians or ethnic Turks, it is hard to define their exact number. This, on its turn makes it difficult to create a long term policy for resocialization of this marginalized group. The three foreign individuals are: Serbian, Turk and Russian (7% of the inquired), the Bulgarians are 37 (84%) and three haven’t identified their background. (Fig. 4)
Amongst the inquired the greatest is the number of the ones graduated high school (24), followed by those with primary education (18). As university graduates 8 people have identified and one is without education. On Fig. 5 you can see the percentage distribution of the inquired according to the extent of their education. Time and again the results from the inquiry show that the majority of these people, regardless of their education status, still have desire to acquire new knowledge, which is going to be useful for more successful resocialization in society.
ANALYSIS OF THE INQUIRIES
The majority of the inquired (33) have been regular and always attended the activities from the project “The way of the new beginning”, and 13 have done it “often”. Only just four have attended “rather seldom” or “seldom”. Based on this information we can conclude that the offered possibilities have matched the needs and expectations of the target group. Moreover, apparently each one of them has found his own motivation to be consistent in the respected activity which he has chosen. Compering these present results with the ones from the interim inquiry we can see that they are almost identical. This shows the presence of motivation and holding up the interest of the target group through the whole period of the project.
To the question “Do you think that the courses/activities which you’ve attended, will help you to more successfully adapt to life when you get out of prison?”, 40 people have answered positively. Seven have chosen the answer “rather yes”, three “Can’t tell”. What is different from the previous accounted monitoring period, when no one of the inquired have expressed doubt or skepticism in regards to the effectiveness of the offered trainings, there is one who has responded that it would “rather not” help him in the process of resocialization. His profile is a 27 years old man with high school education, single. Concerning his background he has identified himself as a Bulgarian. It is hard to tell why on the background of all those who are positive, he is negative. One of the possible explanations is that he hasn’t been regular at the activities and there is no way he can get complete and adequate knowledge. To the question “How often have you attended the activities from the project…?” he replied “rather seldom”. Based on these results we can conclude that there is present a positive regard and desire for successful adaptation to life out of prison in 92% of all inquired.
As extremely encouraging we can define the answers give to Question 7: “ изключително окуражителни можем да определим посочените отговори на Въпрос 7 „Do you feel more self-confident as a result of the courses/activities you have attended?” To the majority of the inquired (47 people) the courses have expressly helped them to feel more self-confident, and two have replied with “rather yes”. One “can’t tell” and one has replied that they “rather not” helped him. We need to make notice that this is the same man who is skeptical also in regards to the effectiveness of the courses. It is a known fact that when a man is more self-confident he has got a better self-esteem and it is easier to deal with his own fears and that makes him more successful in every aspect of life. So, we can expect that the effect of the activities is a good foundation on top of which will be built the future successful resocialization of the individuals who have served their sentences. Another positive moment is that during the final stage of the project we have registered a higher percentage of the people who feel more confident (96%) compared to the one in the interim monitoring report (89%).
Nearly 100% of the inquired have given affirmative response to question 8: “Do you believe that you can change your life and take onto a new path?”. Forty five people have chosen a firm “yes”, four have some slight hesitations and preferred the response “rather yes”. One of them “can’t tell” and one has chosen more than one response. Impression makes the fact that greater is the number of people who believe that they can build up their lives anew and with a clean start, compared with the results from the previous research where 73% responded with “yes”, 19% – “rather yes”, 5% weren’t able to tell, and 3% believed they can’t change their lifestyle they had until this moment. This positive mindset and willingness for a new beginning is a good precondition for successful reintegration in society. However, we are aware that the challenges are yet to come to these men, when they will in reality face the problems – finding job, the attitude of society towards them, family conflicts, temptations from the past and the old surrounding. Because of this reason, the efforts of Mission Salvation Foundation does not stop here but continue to be geared towards supporting those, who in reality are displaying a changed lifestyle and are seeking help. The actual support is expressed in providing a new surroundings, cooperation and intersession when looking for jobs, material help, as much as the organization’s possibilities allow, family counseling, presenting opportunities for development with the different programs at the Center for Culture and Education “Palace of the Happy People”, to the children of the individuals who have served their time.
The family relationships appears to be one of the most sensitive and difficult topics for the imprisoned. The restoration of broken relations, mutual forgiveness and making a new beginning in this area is a difficult and long process and for some obviously – impossible. To the question “Do you find any change in the relation with your love ones after your participation in the project “The way of the new beginning”?” a considerable number of them find somewhat a positive change – 31 responded “yes”, 8 – “rather yes”, five “can’t tell”. However, there are those who think that there is no improvement in the relationships with their loved ones (four stay firm on that opinion, and two have chosen the response “rather not”). There is no specific trend in the way of answering of the respondents affected by their family status or ethnic background. With 8% increase the number of these, who find some positive changes compared with the interim monitoring period.
As a positive result from the project we need to mark the fact that the majority of the participants in the inquiry are planning to continue with their lives when they get out of prison. To question 10: “As a result of the activities which you have attended, do you have any specific plans and expectations for your life out of prison?”, 35 people responded positively and 7 have marked “rather yes”. Here, besides choosing one of the given options, they can write in free writing their plans and intentions, if they have any. Twenty eight of these, who firmly state that they have plans for the future, have shared them in the inquiries. If in the interim monitoring the greatest number were the ones, who have shared as plans the starting up of businesses, now, for the majority the expectations and plans for their lives out of prison, are related to the family (11 people). These results are important and encouraging to us since they show the transformed value system, and also the support of the loved ones is the key factor for a successful resocialization of the ones who served their sentences. Here are some of the shared plans: Do reunite with my family and take care of my young child. This is written by a man who has marked the family status as divorced. A 29 years old Russian citizen is planning To start a family, children and live in peace. It is curious that another one, who has marked to be single, also connects his future with his children: Normal life, look after my children and not doing stupid things. Others have written:
- Strong family and everything will follow that.
- I am willing to live a normal life, look after my children, to breath and live freely, to build up a better value system.
- I want to start a new life, work, family, growth in the spiritual life. (32 years old, single)
- When I go out to work and look after my family. (widower)
- I am planning to live for my family and children.
- To help the family. (19 years old Roma, single)
- Family and raising livestock.
One of the inquired has expressed even more altruistic plans: Happy family life, work, pleasant hobbies, and work for the benefit of society.
Another group that differentiated is of the ones who demonstrate desire for change and a new value system:
- Complete change, new view on things.
- I want to continue with no crimes for the rest of my life. I want meaning and I have it.
- To take on the new way.
- To change myself.
- То walk in God’s way and to work.
For three of them the future plans are work related, as one of them underscores: to work lawfully.Two want to do art:
- Sometimes to do art, to support myself financially, besides the pleasure that will bring. Eventually, try to find a job at a reservation.
- My plans are to become an artist.
Amongst the inquired there are those who want to raise livestock. Personal farm – doves, dog and other domesticated animals, (bees),has written one of them. Another is dreaming to get realized in the area of trade and to succeed to compensate the lost time in prison. Another two are planning to continue their education and attend courses.
Eight is the average grade, by which the inquired have graded on the scale from 1 to 10 (where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the greatest score) the usefulness of the information they are receiving during the different courses. It was the same during the previous accounted period but the difference is that now there are not grades lower than 6. In the next chart you can see the percentage distribution of the grades of the participants in the inquiry.
The majority (40 people) have given a “very high” score to the work of the facilitators of the different activities, eight – “average” and one – “can’t tell”. This shows that the team of facilitators was successfully selected and also that each of them happen to find a successful approach to the target group, to win their trust and to offer the information for the respected area in a comprehensive language. Similar are the results from the previous researched period.
The next question objective is to find out if the imprisoned need some other activities which would help them to more successfully adapt to life out of prison. Makes impression that the predominant number of them (40 people) responded affirmative, two have no need, six can’t tell and six haven’t given any response to it. Twenty six of the inquired, who said that they need some extra activities, have shared also some specific desires. They are quite a variety as the majority of them have pointed out studying of a foreign language (5 people), followed by computer training (3 people). One explicitly pointed out that he wants to attend classes for programing. Four have shared that it would be useful for them to attend classes related to some crafts and activities which are practically oriented, one is interested in farming. There are also suggestions for classes for creativity, mutual help, labor therapy, cooking, driving. Amongst the desires is also a course in finances and accounting. One of the inquired who has only primary education has expressed the desire to educate himself. To continue further the painting course with Nana, course in economics and course in planting and grassing, shares another. It is interesting that amongst the responses we find not only specific activities which would help the process of reintegration but also desires for more social contacts, communication and relations with the outside world. Two have written:
- I need to feel useful
- To help people
The suggested activities will be taken under consideration if there is a future continuation of the project with the imprisoned. If there is interest in the concerned institutions all the information can be submitted to them.
The last question’s objective is to establish the willingness of the inquired to share the acquired during the courses experience with other imprisoned. The majority (39 people) is ready to pass down their experience, five have no desire to do it and same number can’t tell, two haven’t responded. The results are hopeful since the former experience of the foundation shows that the method “pass it on”, and namely the successful examples of some ex-prisoners and their commitment to the cause of the project is a key factor to achieve positive and stable results.
High attendance of the activities of the project (92%), display of motivation and willingness amongst the imprisoned to take advantage from the offered possibilities to acquire new knowledge and personality development – these are part of the conclusions we can make, based on the research. This is a precondition for achieving the end objective, namely – successful resocialization after serving out the sentence. We also registered an increase in the number (from 89 to 96%) of those, who feel more self-confident as a result of attending the activities of the project, compared with the previous monitoring period. Close to 100 % believe that they can change their lives and take on the new way. The majority has plans for the future out of prison and most of them are related to the family (84%). Another positive result is the declared willingness in 80%) of the inquired to get involved in the process of “pass it on”, i.e. to share the acquired experience with other imprisoned. All of this gives us the base to believe that the project to a great extent has succeeded to achieve its objectives.
For the objectives of the monitoring analysis, there was a conversation carried in four target groups. Three of them included participants in the project who are in the premises of the prison. The first consisted of 4 people who are serving life sentence. One of them is with Roma background and the rest are Bulgarians. Two of them live with a partner and one of them got married while serving time. The fourth is single and in the last six years hasn’t been visited by family. The second group has 18 people who are recidivists. In it there are two foreigners: a Serbian and an Australian, five Roma and the rest are Bulgarians. The majorities (2/3) are married or live with a partner. The last group is of people who are expecting their sentences. They are total of 12, as five of them are Roma. Around half of the people in this group are married or live with a partner.
If in the beginning of the project a great part of the beneficiaries have joined the activities mainly with the motivation to fill up their time, now they demonstrate interest and even initiate ne topics, which are being discussed in the course for leadership skills. Although the project is through, these activities continue already outside the provided program and some issues are discussed which concern the imprisoned, such as:
- The values of Christianity – what are they making us different with than the rest of the “colleagues” (a term used amongst the imprisoned)?
- How to overcome the rejection by the rest because of the new life style?
- Should I continue respect authorities even when I see they are not doing right?
- Do I have the right to pour out my anger on people with position, even if I have the reasons to do so?
We need to not that most of the topics are provoked by real life situations where some of the imprisoned have been into. In the conversation the majority also expressed their desire to continue the activities after the project is through. There was a great interest shown towards the art activities, the course for leadership skills and the course for management of personal finances.
The team of Mission Salvation Foundation took into consideration this desire and is already organizing their continuation, having the facilitator’s willingness to join as volunteers.
The fourth target group includes ten people who have served their sentence and are already out of prison. Amongst them there are two foreigners – a Ukrainian and an Iranian. All of them, but one, are either married or live with a partner. The challenges which they are facing are related to restoring the relationship with the family and finding a job. Half of them have made to lay on a new foundation the family relationship but the rest are still facing rejection and unforgiveness from the side of the wife and children. That is why the efforts of Ivodor Kovachev are in the area to become a mediator between them and show psychological support. As far as the work is concerned five have made it to start steady job through assistance and vindication in front of the employers done again by Mr. Kovachev. Two representatives of this group are already actively involved as volunteers through the method “pass it on”, namely by sharing their experiences and positive change to people with similar fate. This is one of the factors for the successful and stable result of the project.
As a result of the monitoring that has been don we can conclude that the project “The way of the new beginning” has succeeded to achieve its goals which are namely: to attract and motivate toward change representatives of the most vulnerable groups – Roma and foreigners, as well as to actively assist for the successful resocialization of the imprisoned.