EPANODOS has been established in order to facilitate and support any effort towards the social and vocational reintegration of former inmates of correctional facilities.
EPANODOS is a non-profit Legal Entity of Private Law supervised by Greek Ministry for Citizen Protection . It is the first, as well as the sole, official agency providing ex-prisoners with “after-care” services to be established in Greece. According to its founding act (Presidential Decree No. 300/2003), it aims at “prisoners and ex-prisoners’ vocational support, as well as at the preparation and promotion of their social reintegration in a broad sense”.
For the fulfillment of its goals, EPANODOS:
• Organizes programs, within correctional facilities, which prepare prisoners for life “outside prison bars” and aim at their smooth reintegration into free society.
• Carries out activities aimed at prisoners’ creative occupation and training.
• Carries out educational and cultural activities aimed at bringing images of free life into correctional facilities.
• Cooperates with the social service staff working in correctional facilities and provides prisoners with counseling services, especially about legal matters and pending legal issues which they may encounter. Moreover, it provides social support and aid for them and their families.
• Informs prisoners and ex-prisoners about their labor rights, allowances and financial reliefs to which they are entitled, about current subsidized vocational training programs and work experience programs, as well as about the existing labor supply and labor demand, always in cooperation with the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (O.A.E.D.) and other competent agencies.
• Provides ex-prisoners with housing and feeding for a short period of time, meets their urgent needs and assists them in resolving specific problems which they may encounter.
• Informs and sensitizes employers as well as enterprises, and also encourages policies that give priority to the employment of ex-prisoners.
• Supports the establishment of social enterprises by the ex-prisoners themselves.
• Informs the community about, and sensitizes it to, the problems faced by people involved in the criminal justice system and, more specifically, by juvenile offenders.
• Supports any initiative taken by private bodies and volunteer organizations which is intended to combat the stigma and the social exclusion of ex-offenders.
• Cooperates with the Greek Central Scientific Prison Council, the Companies of Minors’ Protection, the Social Assistance Guardians and the Minors’ Guardians; it also participates in the “Orestis” network of the Central Scientific Council for Preventing and Combating the Risk of Victimization and Criminality of Minors (K.E.S.A.TH.E.A.), and plays an active role in the field of “after care” at national level as well as within the framework of the European Union and other international organizations. Submits annual reports to the for Citizen Protection and proposes measures and initiatives regarding the treatment of ex-offenders.
EPANODOS participates in European organizations and programs.
EPANODOS’s goals and objectives, according to its founding Presidential Act, are prisoners and ex-prisoners’ vocational training, rehabilitation and financial support, as well as the preparation for, and promotion of, their social reintegration in a broad sense (Article 81 § 2, Correctional Code).
Its scope includes encouraging, strengthening and making use of any initiative taken by private non-profit bodies or volunteer organizations which are active in the field of social exclusion (Article 2, Presidential Decree No. 300/2003, issue of Greek Government Gazette [FEK] A̕ 256).
EPANODOS’s activities also include the preparation for, and the support of, the social reintegration of adult and juvenile ex-prisoners, as well as the promotion of their employability.
In this direction, EPANODOS provides people released from prison with psychosocial, legal and vocational counseling and support.
More generally, EPANODOS aims at:
• Developing, promoting, coordinating and carrying out projects on education, vocational training, employability and financial support for prisoners, ex-prisoners and juvenile delinquents.
• Elaborating and submitting proposals for the reformation of the institutional framework which governs the prevention of re-offending by prisoners and ex-prisoners, as well as proposals regarding their preparation for reintegrating into their social, vocational and family environment.
• Researching, studying and submitting proposals for tackling crime.
• Informing prisoners and ex-prisoners, in cooperation with the competent agencies, about issues concerning their legal and social status, their psychological support, as well as the development of community assistance for them and their families.
• Providing care for juvenile prisoners and carrying out special vocational training and career guidance programs.
• Informing enterprises and ex-prisoners about the current labor supply and demand. For this reason, EPANODOS cooperates with the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (O.A.E.D.) or other competent agencies.
• Encouraging the establishment of enterprises or units operating under the supervision of the State, in which priority will be given to the recruitment of ex-prisoners, as well as encouraging the establishment of enterprises (Social Cooperative Enterprises, SCE) by ex-prisoners.
• Informing community about, and sensitizing it to, the problems facing prisoners, ex-prisoners and juvenile offenders.
• Encouraging, strengthening and tapping any initiative taken by private non-profit bodies or volunteer organizations which combat the social exclusion of the above-mentioned groups and individuals.
• Meeting basic needs and tackling specific problems encountered by foreign prisoners who are going to be released or have already been released.
• Encouraging, strengthening and tapping private initiative and volunteerism.
EPANODOS provides services for ex-prisoners at its office (in Derigny Street 28-30, Victoria, Athens, telephone number: 210-8815904, 210-8815032).
In particular, ex-prisoners can receive psychological support, legal counseling, employment counseling, attention to health issues, and – more generally – support as they take their first steps upon their release from prison, even by providing them with coupons to stay at hotels contracted by EPANODOS, transport tickets and phone cards.
In the same context, work and housing for ex-prisoners are sought (through mediation or referral to competent agencies), as well as the priority enrollment of their children in daycare centres or schools, the finding of subsidies for self-employment etc.
Upon their reception, visiting ex-prisoners are provided with some initial information about the benefits and the financial reliefs to which they are entitled, as well as about the sickness insurance carnet for those not socially secured. Moreover, their social histories are filled out and their needs are recorded. Afterwards, the visiting ex-prisoner is referred either to a counselor within the framework of EPANODOS (always depending on their specific needs) or to a public agency, a non-governmental organization or another organization where they can receive a specialized kind of assistance which EPANODOS cannot offer.
This kind of support frames all the others. It lies in a person being strengthened and motivated, so that they successfully take the steps included in his or her personal plan. It also includes counseling regarding that person’s core relationship with their familiars.
EPANODOS’s counselors often contact some of those familiars, relatives or friends, either by phone or by meeting them. The aim is for those persons to be met in the presence of the ex-prisoner, or his/her being aware of that meeting, so that confidence is not severed.
The psychological support of the ex-prisoner’s familiars often helps his or her own support. …
EPANODOS’s legal counselors systematically deal with the legal problems facing ex-prisoners, primarily on a counseling basis, in the sense that they elucidate legal issues which ex-prisoners do not adequately understand. Besides, they instruct them how to act further. Regarding destitute ex-prisoners who need to be represented in judicial proceedings, EPANODOS requests free legal aid of the competent bar association (after the necessary supporting documents have been attached, in cooperation with EPANODOS’s social worker), and thereafter it maintains contact with the lawyer handling the case in order to be kept informed about its progress.
The legal counseling and support of any ex-prisoner turning to EPANODOS strictly observes the principle and ethics of confidentiality. Moreover, EPANODOS seeks not only to provide ex-prisoners with counseling and information on their individual rights and duties, but also to awaken and mobilize them regarding their social reintegration, acting jointly with the relevant providers of psychosocial support.
Employment counseling aims at increasing ex-prisoners’ self-awareness and, subsequently, at motivating them, so that they succeed in realizing their potential and organizing personal strategies that will enable them to regain their functionality and balance in a constantly changing and demanding socio-economic environment. For this reason, counselors aim at:
a) Strengthening their role as educationists,
b) Making use of their …
c) Sensitizing the community and the labour market,
d) Networking with other agencies,
e) Representing ex-prisoners in order to facilitate their access to social goods and services.
Moreover, EPANODOS aims at raising ex-prisoners’ work consciousness, which consists of behaviors and attitudes towards issues such as resistance to work pressure, adherence to deadlines in carrying out a project, regular work attendance and the development of social skills for teamwork. Individual counseling interviewing aims at:
a) Informing ex-prisoners about the labor market,
b) Providing them with basic training on working techniques, and
c) Promoting them to the labor market through the competent agency of the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (O.A.E.D.).
In the context of the employment counseling for ex-prisoners, EPANODOS:
a) Carries out actions on networking with the labor market,
b) Runs a job club (consisting of a specific computer room with a telephone and newspapers including special advertising inserts, where ex-prisoners can search for a job, supported by EPANODOS’s counselors),
c) Organizes training workshops. Workshops on job search techniques, on the legal and labor rights of ex-prisoners etc. are organized under the supervision of a specialist.
Material benefits provided by EPANODOS, especially financial ones, are limited. Financial support does not fall within EPANODOS’s role and philosophy. Its aim is to help ex-prisoners reintegrate by motivating them. This reintegration effort must be made by them, as well. The effort in question boosts ex-prisoners’ self-confidence and contributes to their social integration. In addition, ex-prisoners, within the framework of their counseling relationship, can be provided with a temporary stay (up to 10 days) at hotels contracted by EPANODOS, as well as with free meals at a restaurant. Besides, they can be provided with free phone cards and transport tickets (on occasion and considering the circumstances) so as to move around and contact their familiars more easily after their release from prison.
Reintegration efforts made by an ex-prisoner are encouraged by our organization (through the psychosocial support, as stated above) and supported via a few material benefits which translate into transport tickets, phone cards and some days of residence at a hotel. Not because there is no will, but because the available resources are very limited.