Evaluation of RESCALED (Detention Houses)

The RESCALED programme is a movement for small scale detention that aims at fundamentally and sustainably reforming the prison systems in 5 European countries, so that restoration becomes valued over punishment. The RESCALED programme promotes the use of smaller prison facilities located in the heart of the city where community integration is the norm. The movement began in Belgium and promotes three main principles.

  1. Small scale enables tailor-made reintegration pathways, allows for a more personal approach, less bureaucracy, better dynamic security and provides more opportunities for prisoners to take responsibility and to interact with the community.
  2. Differentiation means that prisoners are placed in the right security level and offered the most suitable programs. This has proven to work best in terms of facilitating their reintegration and rehabilitation and to be cost effective.
  3. Community integration implies a two-way interaction between the detention house and the community: prisoners can make use of the services in society and each detention house has an added value for the local neighbourhood.

RESCALED aims to initiate and support the implementation of detention houses in Europe. It will encourage European policymakers to strengthen the legal framework, to support European collaboration between policymakers, practitioners, media and academics from different fields and to stimulate high-quality research on small scale detention houses, in different fields including criminology, architecture, psychology, law and technology.

PERU will evaluate the implementation and impact of RESCALED.

What is the need?

The aim of evaluation is to assess and understand whether RESCALED is making progress in promoting the use of smaller prison facilities located in the heart of the city where community integration is the norm. Direct measurement of the social change goal of creating a society that values restoration over incarceration would be difficult to measure within the parameters of the current project. Therefore the evaluation will focus mainly on the process by which RESCALED gains traction in each of the five countries, and as a European network. Specifically, the evaluation will focus on the programme goal of generating influence in 5 EU countries in the academic, social, legislative and executive spheres of the criminal justice system.

What are we doing?

We are starting our evaluation by working with RESCALED on its theory of change. We will use the theory of change as the basis for designing an implementation and impact evaluation that explores how effective RESCALED is at influencing policy-makers, academics and wider society. The evaluation is therefore conceived primarily as a ‘knowledge mobilisation’ evaluation.

What will be the outcomes?

We will be producing interim reports at the end of the first year of the evaluation and a final report at the end of three years. In the meantime we will also produce quarterly monitoring reports and hold workshops with RESCALED to feed back findings.

What are the timescales?

The evaluation started in September 2019 and will run for three years.

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