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About the project:

In European correctional facilities, inmates are prepared to reintegrate into society after their release. But this is not always successful, as the high recidivism rate of former prisoners shows. The NEXT STEPS project aims to break this vicious circle of multiple prison sentences and contribute to the successful integration and reintegration of former inmates and to accompany and support them on their way into the labour market. NEXT STEPS continues the successful Erasmus+ project "STEPS", which was carried out between 2018 and 2020. The follow-up project began on 1st January 2022 and will last 30 months.

The approach pursued by the justice system in North Rhine-Westphalia has shown that the placement of prisoners in the labour market is particularly successful after acquiring vocational qualifications within the correctional facilities. This situation applies to all partner countries involved. In this respect, NEXT STEPS aims to contribute to the successful reintegration of (former) prisoners into the labour market and society. The project takes into account and meaningfully complements the individual and personal plans for inmates as well as regular state and other voluntary services.

The project partners jointly develop the results in close cooperation with regional stakeholders from the partner countries. These include correctional facilities, companies, vocational training institutions, voluntary organisations such as sports clubs and others. Companies get the opportunity to recruit well-qualified and motivated skilled workers, since the sports activities in the correctional facilities not only prepare prisoners socially for their release, but also help them to acquire and improve competencies such as the ability to work in a team, willingness to learn and communication skills for their subsequent professional career. These regional networks will be maintained and expanded by the project partners beyond the duration of the project.

Based on the experiences of this project, another associated project called PERSPEKTIVE aims to realize the full development potential in the area of reintegration of inmates. In this process, the project partners can draw on the project results of NEXT STEPS. The state initiative Handwerk im Hafthaus also deals with the task of how to improve access to the labor market for ex-offenders, whereby the project content developed in NEXT STEPS can also provide support.