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Transformation of the Czech Prison Service

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 29 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2004 Pages: 25-26
Gary Hill
Susan L. Clayton M.S.
Date Published
March 2004
2 pages
This article briefly describes the transformation of the Czech Republic Prison Service after communist rule.
Until 1989, Czechoslovakia was under Soviet influence and communist rule. In 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia separated and the Czech Republic began to integrate with Western Europe. Vaclav Havel, president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, abolished the death penalty in 1990. This began the transformation of the prison system and the process of depolitization, demilitarization, decentralization, and humanization in the Czech prisons. After years of being under communist rule, the goal was to remove politics, military operations, and national decisionmaking from all aspects of prison operation and make the prison system more humane. Havel’s granting of amnesty in 1989 and the abolition of the death penalty in 1990 marked a new era for the Czech Prison Service. This transformation was not without its pitfalls. Even though steps were taken to make the prison system more humane and new laws were established to bring the prison system in line with international rules, the laws concerning sentencing were not modified creating a significant increase in the prison population between 1994 and 2000. Yet, the Czech Prison Service improved the physical conditions for inmates in the prisons and focused on staff development. In addition, the Czech Republic established the Probation and Mediation Service which focuses on the integrating of offenders into their communities, victim participation, and the use of conflict resolution.