"RECOvery in PRISon-bis - Evaluation pilotproject 'Substance abuse treatment for persons in detention'

16 November 2020 → 31 December 2021
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Special needs education
    • Orthopedagogics and special education not elsewhere classified
    • Correctional theory, offender treatment and rehabilitation
    • Punishment and criminal justice
Substance abuse treatment Prison Recovery
Project description

This project is financed by the Federal Public Service of Publich Health. It is carried out by a team of researchers from the Department of Special Needs Education, UGent; the Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social Law, UGent and the Institut National de Criminalistique et de Criminologie (INCC). 

At the end of 2017, pilot projects were initiated in the prisons of Hasselt, Lantin and the Brussels Penitentiary Complex (Berkendael an Sint-Gillis), financed by the Minister of Public Health. These projects are aimed at developing a “substance abuse treatment program for persons in detention”.

 The research project is aimed at evaluating these pilot projects.

 The pilot projects had an initial duration from December 2017 to the end of July 2020, but they were prolonged with one year (fourth phase of the pilot projects).

 The research project consists of three work packages (WP) aimed at a number of research questions. 

WP1: What is the most efficient treatment model for addiction in the Belgian prisons ? The research team has to describe an evidence-based and realistic treatment model in the form of a care trajectory that aims for a global and integrated approach of substance use of the detained persons, including the post-detention period. 

In this work package, the following research questions are dealt with:


  • What is the most optimal time to screen a detained person by means of a screening instrument ?
  • Which activities that were developed by the pilot project should be part of the medical service of a prison ? For which activities are external services preferred ?
  • Of which profiles for substance abuse treatment in prison a care team has to dispose, aimed at the inherent intercultural aspects of a penitentiary context ?
  • Which profiles of drug users are present and what is their proportion in relation to the global prison population ? This assessment will serve for the programming of this type of care offer in other prisons.
  • What is the most efficient screening instrument for addiction in prisons ? A screening instrument has to be developed and tested, that accords with already validated instruments such as the BELRAI and current developments related to the reform of (mental) health care in prison. This instrument should be uniform for all prisons.


WP2: What are the necessary conditions and actions to use the good practices and the tested activities and/or the tested system of which the efficiency was shown in the pilot project, in other prisons in the country ?

 In this WP, attention will be focused on the development of a guide/script, with the support of the project staff members and other involved parties, for the development of projects aimed at supporting substance users in prison.

 WP 3: Valorisation and recommendations

 Report (including a guide/script, cf. WP2).