The second expert meeting of the Nordic-Russian pilot project on female prisoners was hosted by Women’s Rehabilitation Center ARKEN . In addition to the workshops and discussions, the meeting also included visits to two prisons – Bredtveit Prison, Norway’s largest prison for female prisoners and Ravneberget prison for female prisoners – as well as to Pro Sentret, Oslo municipality’s service for persons with experience of selling or trading sex.
The visits to prisons provided insights to Norwegian correctional service. In Bredtveit Tone Monkerud presented the principle of normality that is applied in the correctional service. Restriction of liberty is the sentence; no-one shall serve their sentence under stricter circumstances than necessary for the security in the communitys and life inside will resemble life outside as much as possible. From Carina Gundby Lysell in Ravneberget we learned that their administration cooperates with the administrations of some of the Russian prisons. The cooperation has been fruitful and Norwegian authorities see a future in the continuation of this cooperation.
The meeting resulted in an agreement on common prospects for future cooperation between researchers, activists, civic organizations and authorities with the aim to contribute to evidence-based decision-making and strengthening the voice of researchers and experts in policymaking. The meeting ended with a note on the importance of the cooperation on the issue: "[this] is a very important subject that we have talked about and it is important to see what we can learn from each other, even though it is very different cultural and social societies we live in."
The project has now passed the halfway point and submitted a progress report. The project has proceeded according to the project plan with two expert meetings behind and a fieldwork with Russian NGO’s on the human rights violations and social exclusion of female prisoners in North-West Russia underway. The project has also been presented in several international conferences and workshops. The next and final expert meeting will take place in St. Petersburg in 22-24 August 2019.