Probation and alternative sanctions in Ukraine



Ukraine: ongoing

Start Date: 01-09-2017

End Date: 01-07-2022

Project description

The intended long-term objective of this project is:

  • A more fair and proper administration of justice in Ukraine, through operationalising the newly founded probation system and promoting an individualised and tailored approach to sanctioning

This overall project objective is closely linked with Matra’s objectives to strengthen the rule of law, in line with the Association Agreements, by building the capacity of (semi-) government institutions using Dutch expertise, and in this way also strengthening bilateral relations.

In light of the complex nature of operationalising the probation system in Ukraine and the density of the activities necessary to achieve this aim, a pilot approach is chosen for, which allows for testing various probation approaches and generating knowledge on good practices that can subsequently be used to replicate successful approaches in the other regions. In discussions with Ukrainian counterparts, the Kiev region was selected for this pilot project. The Kiev region is large enough to work on probation and alternative sanctions on a substantive scale, yet modest enough to allow small-scale adaptive peer-to-peer interventions.

In order to achieve the overall project objective, the following four medium-term outcomes are aimed at:

  • Increased application, by prosecutors and judges in the pilot districts, of conditional sentences and community service sentences, contributing to a lower prison population
  • Lower reoffending rates and a better reintegration of adult offenders in the pilot districts
  • Increased support for probation and alternative sanctions among citizens in the pilot districts
  • Replication of successful probation practices/approaches in other districts in Ukraine

The first three medium-term outcomes focus on the pilot region and aim at behavioural changes of the prosecutors and judges (increased application of alternative sanctions), offenders (lower reoffending rates and better reintegration), and the citizens (increased support for probation and alternative sanctions). All these medium-term outcomes are interlinked and essential for operationalising an effective probation system and improving the administration of justice. The fourth medium-term outcome stems from the pilot approach followed by the project. Replication of successful probation practices in other regions in Ukraine are to contribute to the improved administration of justice and operationalisation of the probation system outside the pilot region.

Seven short-term outcomes have been identified that contribute to the realisation of the medium-term outcomes. The Theory of Change (attached here) shows their connection with the medium-term outcomes.

The main activities that will be undertaken as part of this project include the organisation of trainings, working meetings, coaching and study visits. The project applies a chain approach and addresses all key institutions to increase effective cooperation and make probation work.

The project basically focuses on two related stages: the pre-trial stage and the post-trial stage. In addition to these stages, there are two cross-cutting elements that the project will also address.

In the pre-trial stage, the project will work with probation officers, training them to deliver relevant and accurate pre-trial information to the prosecutor and the judge. At the same time, the project will work with prosecutors and judges explaining the potential and the added value of tailored sanctioning, both for the individual offender and for society.

In the post-trial stage, the project will work with probation officers on providing assistance to offenders sentenced to an alternative sanction. This includes both the effective supervision of conditional sentences – checking, monitoring and providing treatment programmes that facilitate behavioural change – and the proper execution of community service sentences – identifying individual and/or group projects and monitoring their implementation. Another element in the post-trial phase is the (conditional) release of detainees who have served their unconditional sentence and should be prepared for their return to society.

Support for probation and alternative sanctions among citizens is key to the success of the system. If citizens do not acknowledge the benefits of alternatives for incarceration and oppose individual and tailored sanctioning for minor crimes, then prosecutors will not be encouraged to demand these measures and judges will be less likely to impose them. A negative view of citizens might also deflect municipalities and other legal entities from providing workplaces for community service sentences. Therefore, the project will concurrently work on creating a better understanding of probation and the opportunities of conditional sentences and community service sentences among the citizens in the pilot region. Showing the (results of the) practical implementation of these sentences will be an essential element of raising awareness.


Project team

Lino Brosius

Lino Brosius

Project Director

Leo Tigges

Leo Tigges

Probation Expert

Rutger Wery

Rutger Wery

Judge & Legal Expert

Joke Pisters

Joke Pisters

Project Manager

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