As many as 56000 people serve their sentences in prisons or are placed in pretrial detention centers in Ukraine.
These people are entitled to education and training, to work, and to receive payment for their work. Only the reality is different: just a few of them can get an education and choose a field of activity while they are serving a sentence.
Сharitable organisations FREE ZONE and Light of Hope visited several correctional facilities in Poltava and Chernihiv regions of Ukraine where 20 prisoners, both men and women, told why they needed education, whom they would like to become and why it was crucial for them.
Portraits of convicts' photo exhibition "Education is the Way Home" that also included their stories was presented on October 4, 2018, in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian Parliament) and afterwards toured the regions of Ukraine.
In October the exhibition took place in Kyiv and Cherkasy (central part of Ukraine), in November in Lviv (western part of Ukraine) and in Sumy (eastern part of Ukraine) and will yet be shown in the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine (Kyiv). Exhibition has already been seen by the members of Parliament, NGO activists, the mass media, local authorities and the local communities of the mentioned cities, as well as the former prisoners themselves.
"That is why it is essential for them to prepare for this to understand the existing world, which might have changed in the years they spent in prison.
They must find their place in this world and ensure that their lives in such a way that it does not become the way back to prison,” says Bettina Brand, the Regional Director of DVV International in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova.
Now in Ukraine, a draft law is being drafted, which should make changes to the Penal Code regarding the education of people in penitentiary institutions.
The project is implemented by CO FREE ZONE and CO Light of Hope in partnership with DVV International Ukraine within the framework of activities of the International Network of Penitentiary Education in the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia with financial support from the Federal Foreign Office.