3R – “(Respire, Remember, Respond) Emotional Intelligence for Reducing Recidivism” Project

3R “(Respire, Remember, Respond) Emotional Intelligence for Reducing Recidivism” Project is approved by the National Agency of Romania. The project consortium is already preparing the official start of the project. For decades, a wide range of scholars have turned their attention to understanding the processes through which recidivism occurs. This is an important question since, in many societies, recidivism rates are high and the societal costs are significant. According to Eurostat (2017) recidivism rates in EU go from 30% to 50%, a figure which is especially high in the first two years after leaving prison (from 60% in the first year to 80% in the second). This affects the State budgets, according to the cost per prisoner per day, a calculation that includes Security; Health care; Services (incl. maintenance, utilities, maintenance of inmate records, reception, transportation, etc.); Administration; Support (incl. food, inmate activities, inmate employment, clothing, etc.) Rehabilitation programs (incl. academic education, vocational training, substance abuse programs, etc.). Other costs. In 2015, the median amount spent per day and per inmate in Europe was 60 euros. It is 15 more Euros than in 2013 ( 45 Euros). On the other hand, the average amount is 101 Euros, 2 more Euros than in 2013 (99 Euros). The amounts vary widely across Europe: from almost 6 to more than 480 Euros per day and per inmate.

Another curious fact is that the highest prison population rates can be found in Eastern Europe and the lowest in the Nordic countries, presenting countries like Spain or France high prison population rates (i.e. more than 100 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants) (Aebi et al., 2016). In conclusion, Europe has a high prison population average rate, which in 2014 corresponded to 136.2 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants (ibid., 2014).Anyway, that figure goes beyond, because to calculate the benefit of increasing inmates’ successful reintegration we must also account, for instances, to revenue from work – in taxes – or other indirect benefits such as reducing inmates’ children and family’s traumas or exclusion vulnerability. These are just example to state the impact of reducing recidivism through effective programs. What we do know about recidivism is that community re-entry after prison is challenging. Many criminologists assume that offenders feel stigmatized following formal punishment because unfortunately, is well known that criminal justice system is highly stigmatizing.

Also, there are many variables affecting successful reintegration process. Literature suggests that there are six critical areas identified as potentially imposing barriers to community reintegration for ex-offenders including personal conditions of the ex-prisoner, social network and social environment, accommodation, the criminal justice system, rehabilitation and counselling support, and employment and training support needs and conditions (Graffam et al., 2006). Ex-prisoners and offenders are much more likely to struggle with substance abuse, the lack of educational attainment, work experience and job skills, limited housing options, and mental health issues. This is especially true for the first two years after release which is the period in which return to prison is most likely. And this poses enormous emotional and social challenges and pressure to which large number of inmates may lack to master.

For example, the difficulties faced by of ex-prisoners when seeking entry into the workforce are not only related with the attitudes of employers to ex-offenders and crime, or lack of job contacts. Various personal difficulties also raise such as behavioral problems, low self-esteem, confidence, and motivation. In this context is where EI. can help released prisoners and ex-prisoners in handling their current reality. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is “an ability to perceive one’s own and others’ emotions, to distinguish between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to utilize emotional information properly in guiding positive thoughts and behavior”. The function of EI intervention is to improve this ability, which will help reoffenders in several important areas.

3R project is based on an EI tool which works specifically with self-control and management in taking decisions. Before a stimulus, human beings have two options to answer, according to professor Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence, 1995). The first one happens when our brain answers from its more primitive area, provoking a primary reaction from anger or fear. The second one happens when the brain filters that reaction through its rational and logic area (cortex) taking a rational response.

Thus, 3R tries to look for a more operative and less impulsive option based on three steps: 1.Identify Your Emotions; 2.Interpret Your Emotions; and 3. Manage Your Emotions.

The Purpose of this project is to improve the social adaptability and resilience of (ex) offenders, to promote their community re-entry, and as a result to reduce recidivism. In this sense, Emotional Intelligence interventions should be given to prisoners who will be released within 6 months or community sentences.

First of all 3R project is doubled focused. On one hand, it will work with inmates and on the other one people who make up the support systems for inmates in their reintegration in society - (in)formal educators. The Purpose of 3R project is to improve the social adaptability and resilience of ex-offenders, to promote their reintegration to society, and as a result to reduce recidivism. 3R want to contribute to social inclusion and improving and extending the offer in Emotional Intelligence interventions for inmates so they learn how to integrate emotional intelligence practices into their everyday lives, for example, have training sessions focusing on stress handling, self-awareness and self-regulation. In parallel to this program another will be offered for people whose role is to support the inmates in their attempt to reintegrate into society.

Thus the extension in supply of high quality learning opportunities is supported by the evidence-based practices that show how emotional intelligence can support learning, commitment, self-confidence and self-efficacy necessary to the investment in more extensive and higher qualified learning paths.

Adults inmates are amongst the most excluded groups in society. Although individuals have access to education and training activities inside prisons the offer is not only unsatisfactory but also delivers insufficient results - that is doesn't reduce the vulnerability to exclusion upon release. Education and training, together with labour market opportunities are in the top tier of factors to led to a successful reintegration and recidivism avoidance. If society avoids recidivism it is not only the social inclusion of inmates that is achieved it is also the ones of the victims that is spared from risk.

Inmates in their path to reintegration are required to increase their qualification if they want to reduce the vulnerability and risk of returning to the marginalization and exclusion in which they have come from.

Project Coordinator:
    • Asociatia Centrul de Mediere Culturala, Dezvoltare Umana si Sociala (Romania)
      • CPIP (Romania)
      • INDEPCIE SCA (Spain)
      • BrainLog (Denmark)
      • Stowarzyszenie SEDA (Poland)
      • GROWTH COOP S.COOP.AND (Spain)