This present interim report is an analysis of the advancement of the project at the end of the first half of its implementation. Based on the reached conclusions, if necessary, some corrective measures are going to be undertaken.
The main goal of the project is to assist the process of successful re-socialization of the imprisoned through the development and implementation of a special program for character transformation, including workshop activities in:
- management of personal finances
- building up of leadership skills
- personal social-psychological meetings
- Family meetings with celebrations.
In order to establish how effective is the project and if it achieves the set goals, some items were taken under consideration:
- The extent of satisfaction of the preliminary expectations and settings of the target groups (the imprisoned at the Sofia Central Prison with the special accent on two marginalized groups: Roma people and aliens:
- The extent of engagement of the target group
- Evaluation of the participants of the quality and usefulness of the information, included in the seminars and art activities
- Evaluation of the work of the facilitator
For the purposes of the monitoring analysis have been used two methods: inquiry (quantity method) and focus groups (quality method).
The project includes three inquiries – input, interim and final. The interim inquiry which is presented and analyzed here is for the purpose to establish the extent 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 way of life. It consists of 15 questions, two of which have free type of answer and 13 with multiple choices. It has been given to the prisoners on paper. The total number of completed and valid inquiries is 38. The average age of the participants is 35. One hasn’t mentioned his age. There is an even number of the married or co-habiting (16) and the singles (16). Five are divorced and one hasn’t mentioned his family status. (Fig.1)
In regards to the ethnic identity – 5 have self identified themselves as Roma which is 14% of the questioned. In fact, their number is greater but as it has been already mentioned in the input report most of the Roma identify themselves as Bulgarians or ethnic Turks. Three are the aliens: Iranian, Turk and Russian (8% of the questioned), Bulgarians are 29 (78%) and one hasn’t mentioned his origin. (Fig.2)
Amongst the inquired the greatest is the number of people who finished high school (20), followed by those with 8th Grade (9). People with university education are 4, and elementary – 3 and one hasn’t answer the question. (Fig.3) The results from the inquiry are showing that the majority of these people, regardless of their education, are willing to acquire knowledge which is going to be beneficial for a more successful re-socialization in society.
ANALYSIS OF THE INQUIRIES
The majority of the inquired (26 people) point out that they “always” attend the courses and activities from the project “The way of the new beginning”, and nine of them attend “often”. Only three of them attend “rather seldom” and “seldom”. There are no specifics observed in regards with the family status or ethnic identity but we should make a note that all three of the irregular attendees belong to the group of singles. This data shows that the participants in the project are motivated to participate in the different activities. It is well known fact that motivation is a very important factor predetermining the success in every aspect of life. This is an indicator that we are going in the right direction.
Again, the predominant number (26 people) claim that the courses they attend respond to a “very high” extent to their initial expectations, to 11 of them it is “medium” and one of them “can’t tell”. This gives us reasons to believe that the provisioned for the project activities to a great extent satisfy the initial mindsets of the target group.
To the question “Do you find that the courses/activities you attend will help you to more successfully adapt to life after being released?” the positive response came from 25 people. Eleven have chosen the answer “rather yes”, one “can’t tell” and one has circled two answers: “yes” and “I can’t tell”. This is where we need to make a note, that none of the inquired have expressed neither doubt nor skepticism concerning the effectiveness of the offered trainings. On the base of these results we can make the conclusion that there is a positive attitude and willingness for successful adaptation to the life after prison in 97% of all questioned people.
To 26 of the imprisoned the courses they attend, emphatically have helped them to feel more confident in themselves, seven have responded “rather yes”. Four “can’t tell” and one hasn’t responded. The confidence in self and in one’s abilities, alike the motivation, is also an important factor for success in every aspect of life. Therefore the stated change in the personal self evaluation gives us the reason to hope that the project will succeed to achieve the set goals.
The confidence in self and in the abilities to a great extent predetermines the responses to the next question, which is: “Do you believe that you can change your life and take on a new path?” People who are confident in themselves respectively believe that they have the strength and the will to take advantage of the given to them chance and to start clean and anew. Because of this the responses to questions 8 and 9 are so much alike. Twenty seven have responded affirmative, seven have marked “rather yes”, two “can’t tell” and one thinks that he is “rather not” able to change his present way of living and set a new beginning. Such stated readiness for change is really hopeful and it is a good foundation for the further realization of the project.
The question at which the emphatically affirmative responses are not so many and we see insecurities and hesitations is related to the connection with the family. “Do you find any change in the relationship with your family after your involvement in the project “The way of the new beginning”? More than half of them find some positive change (16 have responded “yes” and 10 with “rather yes”) but there are still a few that think things haven’t changed (2 responded “no”, 4 – “rather not”), 5 of the questioned people “can’t tell” and one hasn’t given any response.
If we take a look of how the inquired have responded to this question according to their family status we can see that the majority of the married and co-habiting men, can see some positive change in the relationship with their families (7 responded “yes”, 7 – “rather yes”) and only two are on the opposite opinion (1 responded “no” and 1 – “rather not”). With the singles things are different. According to eight of them (6 responded “yes” and 2 – “rather yes”) changes have taken place, three think that change is “rather not” there, four “can’t tell” and one hasn’t responded. In the group of the divorced the responses are almost even, i.e. three have found some changes, one is certain that there is none and one can’t tell. There is nothing specific in the responses in regards to the ethnos, that’s why we are not taking it under consideration.
Relationships, and in particular with family and loved ones, are one of the most complicated areas because of the influence of different factors like past hurts, bitterness, unforgiveness, and pride. At the same time, showing support from the closest surrounding is of extreme importance for the successful re-socialization of the imprisoned and their correct integration in society. Therefore, during the personal social-psychological meetings, we envision to provide even greater support to the people who haven’t restored successfully the connection with their loved ones, as well as to be additionally stimulated to get involved in the specially organized festive family gatherings.
Interesting are the responses given by the inquired to the following question: “As a result of the activities you attend, do you already have any specific plans and expectations for the life out of prison?” Besides choosing one of the already given options, here they can right in a free text their plans and intentions, if they’ve got any. It appears that the majority of the participants in the inquiry respond that they already know what the plans are for their future lives after prison (25 are concrete and 6 reply “rather yes”). Twenty two of those that claim concrete plans have shared them in the inquiry. The greatest number are those who intend to start a small business (5 people), as one of them has very specific intentions, namely developing a business in the area of tourism and food services. Four want to start work and their motives are quite interesting: “to continue work and to start anew and clean”, “good job so I can become a parent with dignity”, “to start work and have a family”. Three people want to continue their education, one intends to go abroad. A strong impression makes one altruistic response: “to help other inmates together with Mission Salvation Foundation”, as well as responses where one can see the changed value system: “to put my family in order and start new life”, “I’d like to rediscover myself and to prove myself to others”. “I want to start everything all over and to extract the positives of what I’ve been through”. One of the inquired has firmly responded that he has no specific plans and another – “rather not”. One has give two answers at the same time and three – none.
Eight is the average grade given by the inquired on the scale from 1 to 10 (where 1 is the lowest and 10 the highest) the usefulness of information which they receive during the different courses.
The majority (32 people) have given a “very high” grade for the work of the facilitators of the different activities, five – “medium” and one – “can’t tell”. This shows that the team of facilitators for the project has been successfully selected and that everyone individually is able to find good approach toward the target group and to present the information in his area in an accessible language
The next question “Is there anything that you would want to be improved in the courses/activities from the project “The way of the new beginning”, which you attend?” gives a chance to the participants in the inquiry to make their recommendations and comments. Nineteen believe that there are things which need improvement, 13 think that there is nothing and 6 can’t tell. Fourteen are the ones who responded that something needs to change in order to improve the work and have given their specific recommendations. Impression makes also the desire of eight of them to have the activities more often and for longer time. At this stage this can’t be satisfied since there have already been planned certain number of classes in the project but in future development of the activity this recommendation will be taken under consideration. Among the other recommendations is that the courses would be conducted also during weekends, which we have already considered with two of the activities (“Management of personal finances” and Entrepreneurship”) and moved them from Friday to Saturday. Another recommendation is to include more prizes as well as the use of computers which we will do whenever we have the ability.
The last question is with the purpose to establish if the imprisoned need any other activities which would be of help to more successfully adapt to the life after prison. Twenty have responded to this question with “yes”, 7 – “no”, 10 – “can’t tell” and one hasn’t responded. Three people pointed out that cookery is an area where they want to acquire knowledge. Among the other desired activities are sports, driving classes, training concerning the work and services offered by the government institutions, etc. Some of the suggestions are going to be taken under consideration with the future development of the activities in prison for the purpose of successful re-socialization of the imprisoned.
The majority of the inquired are motivated and willing to take advantage of the offered opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills which are going to be helpful for their successful re-socialization in society. A lot of hope rises because of the results, according to which 92% believe they can put a new beginning in their lives. We can say that the initial skepticism registered at the beginning of the project has been overcome. The merits belong to the facilitators and their skills to find the right approach to the target group. 84% have given “very high” grade for their work, and the average grade for the usefulness of the offered information is 8 out of maximum 10. Based on this data we can say that the project is able to reach a great number of the set goals, at this stage. Of course, the recommendations of the participants are not going to be overlooked in order to make it even more effective for them.
For the purpose of the monitoring analysis a conversation has taken place in two focus groups, each of them including 15 participants of the project. The total number of Roma participants is 11, almost 2/3 are the married ones or cohabiting. What the inmates have shared shows that the facilitators have succeeded to win their trust and mostly through well intended attitude, the accessible way of sharing the information, as well as the personal example and stories for overcoming challenges in life and achieving the desired goals. The predominant number of people has demonstrated interest and approval for the courses attended by them. There were also some who made suggestions for new topics which are to be included in the activities such as: interpersonal conflicts, eating habits and healthy living. Other issues they have showed interest in, are the following: “Is it justifiable the punishment for marihuana possession?” and “Why when I ma good bad things are happening to me?” Some of the suggestions are already added to the topic part of the leadership course and others are going to be taken under consideration for any future continuation of the activity for assisting the process of their re-socialization. Here is what some of them shared:
“The leadership course is helping me a lot to start thinking about my life and realizing how much hatred I had kept inside of me toward certain people. I now have no evil thoughts towards anybody. Before, I used to think that when I get out of prison I will make them pay. However all of that disappeared and now I am only dreaming how I am going to get out of here and really start like the normal good people walking in the good paths and build a better future for myself.”
“My participation in the art course gives me hope for the future. I see that I am not useless. I am trying to make something, to change, to create.”
“In the pass I’ve never listen to others advises and I didn’t know how to put order in my money, and I was getting deep in debts and credits all the time. Thanks to the course for management of personal finances I realized how one can make a plan and with an average wage for Bulgaria can live a normal life. The leadership course has helped me to see where the roots of the problems are, and they are hidden in us. People usually don’t give you a chance that’s why I am thankful to Mission Salvation who trusted in people marked by society that they would never change. I believe that each and everyone has the right of a new chance. I have hopes to live.”
“I can see change in me, as well as my family who can feel it and they are more positive toward me. I ended up in prison because I have lived an unworthy life. There was aggression in me, judging, I was unsatisfied all the time. However, now I’ve got new thinking about life and my faith strengthens me. I am trying to pass this faith onto other inmate around me because without faith and love in our hearts we are doomed to be in prison forever.”
The participants in both focus groups also expressed the desire to have some of the activities on Saturday since some of them go to work during the week, or go to school and the activities are overlapping in the premises of Sofia Central Prison. As it was mentioned above, this request was taken under consideration and some of the courses are already taking place on Saturdays. The need for change in the schedule was approved by the facilitators, who also had a discussion concerning the development of the activities in the project and their efficiency. Albena Ivanova who teaches the course for entrepreneurship shared with us:
“They are definitely showing interest. I am a person who wants to find meaning in what he is doing. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 2/3 of the inmates didn’t come only for the tics , as they call it. These are men who attended to most of the classes, participated, asked questions. I also had my prejudice, that I what I was going to teach would make any sense to them. However, it appeared that on topics which I least expected them to be interested in, they were still quite active. For instance, the topic concerning the legal status of a firm: how to start it, how to make your business legal. They were interested in the regulations, how to apply them and particularly in the area of entrepreneurship.”
The results from to monitoring analysis are encouraging us that at this stage we are able to achieve the set goals. Of course, we also realize pretty well, that the serious challenge both, the target group and we are facing, is when these men leave prison. The ongoing work that we are doing with some, who already served their sentences gives us hopes that we will be able to overcome this challenge as well.