RESCALED: Putting human being back at the centre of the detention system


Advocacy At-Risk Convicts Reinsertion Belgium 2016

Project description

Hans Claus, Founder of RESCALED, explains:

RESCALED is a growing European organization based in Brussels with national offices in Portugal, Norway, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, France and Belgium. Its mission is to support the use of detention houses instead of large prison institutions. The underlying reasoning for this fundamental reform of the European prison systems is that detention houses offer a sustainable and future-oriented solution for many of the structural social and penal problems inherent to any prison system.

In small-scale detention houses, it is easier for incarcerated people to build trust, to make choices and to gain agency and responsibility, which is a prerequisite for everyday life in the 21st century. Since detention houses differ from each other in terms of activities, services and security measures, incarcerated people can serve their sentence at the right security level and receive the support they need. This means that they will be better prepared for release. By being community-integrated, detention houses enable incarcerated people to stay connected to community-life. Rather than leaving prison with anxiety and all their belongings in a plastic bag, they leave the detention house as a part of the community, with a good support system and the tools they need to face life after release.

Actions that contribute to its mission include collecting evidence in collaboration with universities, establishing relationships with prison administrations and ‘good practices’ all over Europe, building networks of governmental and non-governmental organizations to gain support, raising awareness through communication campaigns and events, and influencing penal policies at local, national and European level. RESCALED’s vision is that one day, societies are inclusive, safe and sustainable.


Demeter's contribution

Demeter foundation supported RESCALED in its advocacy efforts through publications, advice, and leverage of its network.

SDG Goals

Decent work and Economic growth

Peace, justice and strong institutions

Johan Lothe, Managing Director, Wayback

Wayback is a Norwegian NGO founded in 2002 in Oslo. Its purpose is to assist incarcerated people in their transition from prison to a law-abiding life after their release. Its strength is that we have experienced being incarcerated ourselves and managed the transition to society without returning to crime and further imprisonment.

Wayback is often involved in developing new services for incarcerated people. We are included in advisory boards, available to media, politicians and researchers that want to understand and improve rehabilitation during incarceration. ‘Lived experience’ has gained acceptance and has become valuable.

This is where the synergies between Wayback and RESCALED become clear. Working with incarcerated people is easier in smaller detention units, community-integrated and customized to the people serving their sentence. Not in the large prisons, far away from cities, that are currently being built in Norway.

To make this tangible and visible, we have launched a Research & Development project together with Norway’s largest architect firm. We made drawings for a detention house in Oslo, we found a ground in the community and established contacts with organisations in the neighbourhood. Employees, incarcerated people, and researchers were involved. Different professionals all had a voice in the project.

The results are remarkable. Local politicians are listening. National politicians are inviting us. Media has caught interest in the concept. We hope to realize this project and build small detention units in Oslo, integrated in the community so that the house serves the community, the incarcerated people and the employees working there.

This is how RESCALED can really change the system, slowly but steadily. Not only in Norway, but also in Belgium, Czechia, the Netherlands, France, Malta, Portugal and beyond.

Similar projects

............ .............. .............. ............