The Organization of the,Penitentiary System in Poland after 1989
Author: Włodzimierz S. Kosiacki
The contemporary Polish penitentiary system is based on the principle of humanity, individualization, responsibility, and slow progression. This system has been extended to include social self-governance, which affects the institutions of isolation, while the enforcement of judgments is public and guarantees the humanitarian treatment of convicts as people with specific rights and obligations. In the penitentiary system, protection of the public and care for the safety of convicts in penitentiaries is obligatory. Abuse of prisoners’ rights or failure of the prison officers to perform their duties is punished. Criminal liability is imposed on an officer who physically or mentally abuses a person deprived of liberty. Recognising the fact that most convicts suffer from psychological inadequacies, modern psychology, including penitentiary psychology, strives to reduce or eliminate these through resocialisation and re-adaptation programs. The prison reforms initiated after 1989 were intended to protect society against crime, as well as to provide convicts with humanitarian and legally acceptable conditions. The Catholic Church was a powerful influence in bringing about these changes. On September 1st, 1987, the Polish Episcopate established the office of the Chief Chaplain of Prisons, and prisoners were guaranteed the right to perform religious practices. Chaplains appeared in prisons, alongside psychologists and educationists. Pastoral ministry in prisons implements the idea of the good that the Gospel brings, while religious maturity advances in co-operation with maturity of personality and constructive interpersonal contacts. Since 1989, the Polish prison service has carried out a most spectacular, thorough and exemplary reform of the Polish penitentiary system, which is still an example for many young democracies. The everyday dimension of this service is marked by the endeavour to bring spiritual and moral renewal to the individual, giving hope and a chance for him or her to redeem wrongs done and repair,faults, in accordance with the purpose and mission of the Prison Service.
prison service, penitentiary system, resocialisation and re-adaptation programs, the humanitarian change of the prisoner-officer relationship, prison chaplain