The informative event titled “Youth and Delinquency: Social Reintegration and the Role of Professionals” took place on Friday, January 26, at Impact Hub Athens, jointly organised by KMOP and EPANODOS (a private legal entity for the reintegration of prisoners under the supervision of the Ministry of Citizen Protection). The event was highly successful, gathering over 130 participants, including correctional officers, educators, journalists, civil society representatives, students, and citizens. The aim was to explore the causes of youth delinquency, as well as the main problems and challenges faced by former convicts during their social reintegration. Programmes for the training and transition of at-risk minors/youth to the job market were presented, along with strategies for their protection and empowerment.
During the event, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the General Secretariat for Anti-Criminal Policy, KMOP, and EPANODOS to strengthen targeted actions for incarcerated and released (or about to be released) adults and juvenile offenders. The memorandum was signed by the General Secretary for Anti-Criminal Policy, Ms. Dimitra Lygoura, the General Director of KMOP, Dr. Antonia Torrens, and the General Director of EPANODOS, Ms. Fotini Milioni.
Addressed the rising phenomenon of youth delinquency, the General Secretary for Anti-Criminal Policy, Ms. Dimitra Lygoura, emphasized the need to modernise state services to provide a more human-centred approach to minors and young offenders, aiming at their successful reintegration into society. She highlighted the importance of distinguishing between the terms ‘delinquency’ and ‘criminality’ to avoid stigmatising young offenders and to facilitate society in adopting prevention tactics. She further referred to educational programmes and actions implemented in correctional facilities, stating: “We aim to create an environment that provides love to these children and faith for them to succeed with tools that we will offer.”
In his address, the President of EPANODOS, Mr. Christos Kouroutzas, referred to the common goal of implementing a reintegration model and focusing on issues related to education, training, and employability. He also spoke about the organisation’s various actions to support offenders and their families, as well as programmes and collaborations to ensure their smooth reintegration into society.
“The structured framework of human rights in essence, and not just on paper, is what connects us,” said Professor of Criminology at the Department of Sociology at Panteion University and UN Expert, Dr. Vasiliki Artinopoulou. She presented contemporary approaches to preventing and addressing delinquency, noting that there are 16 national action plans and strategies for individual issues. “The political will exists, but we struggle with its implementation,” she emphasised. Finally, she highlighted the need for more collaborations between the state, civil society, and social entities because “it is only by uniting forces that we can bring about change.”
In a panel discussion, the General Director of EPANODOS, Ms. Fotini Milioni, the President of the Inmates Support Association “Onisimos”, Mr. Ioannis Papasarantopoulos, and Lawyer-Criminologist and Caretaker of Minors, Dr. Pari Zagoura, discussed the actions of their respective organisations and delved into the causes of youth delinquency, as well as the difficulties and prospects of social reintegration for young individuals.
“Children are angry. They express the image of society, and prisons also reflect this image,” stated Dr. Zagoura, referring to the rise in violence among young people. She also mentioned that we need to make the educational process interesting so that children are motivated to learn, and for this reason, we must also educate the parents. “It is hypocritical to consider children responsible without holding adults accountable,” she said.
Mr. Papasarantopoulos addressed the crisis of values in the current era, stating that it is something children are also experiencing. He underlined that “there is no punishment anymore, and this creates the need for children to do something delinquent to stand out. We must rediscover and support our values.”
In turn, Ms. Milioni pinpointed the social problem of delinquency. “Children in prison are suffering in many ways. Prison often constitutes their way out,” she said, highlighting the need for more educational initiatives within correctional facilities. She also mentioned success stories of inmates whose delinquent paths were halted by prison, which instead motivated them to pursue learning and knowledge “to rebuild their lives and careers.”
The event concluded with presentations from representatives of EPANODOS and KMOP, highlighting their actions for reintegration.
The Employment Consultant and collaborator of EPANODOS, Ms. Maria Petalia, focused on both the educational and cultural activities of the organisation.
From KMOP, Mr. Markos Shangoyan, researcher of the MIRAD project, referred to the organisation’s educational activities, in which correctional officers participated with the aim of enhancing cooperation between state agencies and Civil Society organisations. Similarly, the project manager of the Youth Regained project, Ms. Aphrodite Azari, and the project researcher, Ms. Georgia Alexandrou, presented the online educational programme aimed at enhancing the employability of vulnerable youth, especially those at risk of committing or repeating a crime, through the education of young offenders and educators.
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