Issue 1 - September 2010

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"EPANODOS" (“Return” back to the society)
Rehabilitation Center for ex-prisoners
Presentation, challenges and objectives


by Melina Strougi,
Athens Law School student

We stand by them before & after their release
When all is said and done, how does society punish offenders? Are penalties imposed in an attempt to fight crime and prevent the repetition of future unlawfulness, or rather does it condemn the offenders to a lifetime of punishment? The status quo sees offenders continue to pay for their illegal acts, even after serving their sentences. For many, atonement never comes, and they continue to occupy the sidelines well after their alleged reintegration into society. This because when once out of prison, there is a serious possibility that all doors are closed to you, you are stigmatized, ultimately leading to a longer, hidden sentence lasting the rest of ones life.

In some cases the legal & welfare state loses sight of its objective and, by hobbling ex-prisoners, often creates more problems than previously existed. What we really need are ways and solutions for an effective reintegration of sinners, who have already paid their debt with deprivation of their liberty.
One rehabilitation center for ex-prisoners is Epanodos (Return). This is a relatively new, non-profit entity, provisions for which have existed in the Greek Correctional Code since 1999. As noted, however, by its staff, bureaucratic obstacles delayed the establishment of the entity, and effective operation began in 2007. Since May 2008 former inmates may visit the offices of Epanodos ( to receive psychological, legal and general support for their initial steps into society post -incarceration. The assistance available is substantial, and can meet needs for temporary housing, food, jobs and free travel on public transport. This is an organization in its infancy, and it is important to support its efforts to provide assistance for people in need.

EPANODOS operates under the supervision of the Greek Ministry of Justice.

Its inception and operation has been effected under the Penitentiary Law (art. 812) and Presidential Decree 300/2003.

The Greek Minister of Justice appointed the board of EPANODOS in March 2007, upon which it began operating.

The primary objective of EPANODOS is the resettlement of ex-offenders back in to society, and mainly, to enhance and promote their working skills and abilities. In this way it helps them to access the labor market. EPANODOS also offers consulting and psychological support and tries to create the necessary  infrastructures for the ex-offenders.
The personnel consists of Criminologists, sociologists, psychologists and social workers, directed by Nestor Courakis, Professor of Criminology and Correctional policy in Law School of Athens and Director Ms. Fotini Milioni, Qualified Scientist and Collaborator in Law School of Athens

Our discussion with the latter, and Ms. Despina Tsaousidou, a social worker, is worth reproducing here.

- You come in contact with a significant number of ex-prisoners. What are they like in general, how do they behave?

D.T.: In general these people are very frustrated, very angry, they have difficulty trusting others. There are those who expect everything from you, as if you are all-powerful. Of course, its also a way for them to communicate. The good thing is that Epanodos enables them to speak to us, offers some stability, some continuity in this relationship. They know that "if I need it I will go there" and slowly with small steps they come to trust us. But this needs time and patience.

- Is there information in the prisons?

F.M.: There is a liaison with the Justice Department and some contacts in order to have support in the prison, because the preparation for release should begin from inside the prison. However, there are some prisons with no social welfare officers or qualified staff.

- Have you considered conducting information inside the prison?

:This is a very good suggestion. It is possible, but this requires scientific expertise; we need more time, we also need permanent personnel. We are not permanent employees. There must be a long term effort in this direction. It cannot be done now whilst scientific collaborators may come and go... This lack of continuity and stability in employment is problematic for social services in Greece.

- How do you help with housing, sustenance and employment? Do the goals of Epanodos for vocational training of prisoners include training to help them cope better with the demands of the workplace?
F.M.: For the newly released, Epanodos provides accommodation in a hotel, paid for by us. It is temporary of course, for 10-15 days lets say. Sustenance is provided too, and may be continuous under cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Church, the municipality and the Parish, according to which jurisdiction the ex-prisoners reside in, and special services of each institution.

Regarding the vocational aspect, we are forming a link with vocational training centers, which have submitted proposals to the relevant bodies in order to implement some training programs. So, with this connection we believe some of the beneficiaries of Epanodos will be included in these programs, depending of course on their own requests and needs. There is collaboration with OAED (the Greek Employment Service) particularly for minors to be promoted into Apprenticeship programs.

Also, our consulting services include advisory services in addition to psychosocial support. We have contacted some 100 large-companies, informed them about our rehabilitation effort and have sought to create a bank of employers who may in future recruit some ex-prisoners.

- Is the financial support you receive sufficient?

:We are mainly funded by the Ministry of Justice, but there are donations from famous and anonymous citizens who assist the work of Epanodos. And indeed we have been positively received  in a society with active citizens who want to help each other. We set up a voluntary group and the response has been warm.

- How can the volunteer group assist the beneficiaries of Epanodos?
F.M.:There can be a bazaar, or an event, but it may also involve awareness-raising activities, such as setting up a booth in a central square to distribute brochures, etc. Or there may be smaller groups that approach citizens and others to inform them about Epanodos and the stigma faced by ex-prisoners. Our volunteer team has already begun its first meeting with topics related to volunteerism and reintegration.

- What is the general profile of the average ex-prisoner who approaches Epanodos?

: They come from all age groups, though it is mostly 35 to 50 years old. There are many foreigners here and there is a Legal Advisory Department to handle the residence issues. Most are men, of course, because the majority of prisoners are men. As for their requirements, it is mainly for work and financial aid.

They have committed a range of crimes, mostly drug-related, which is not surprising given that according to Greek criminological researches, most of incarcerated criminals are there on drug-related charges.

- Do you see the same faces over time?
D.T.: Yes they come often, since they are genuinely in need. Other times they are in need yet do not come. In many cases it is people whom nobody cares for and when you show a little interest they usually respond with surprise. I think the most important thing is for them to learn to ask for help when they need It, in an appropriate manner.

- May pride prevent them from coming to you?

: Yes, pride is an issue... They think: “Sure, now they will tell me”, “I know, nothing is ever done”. We are an institution of the Ministry of Justice and they often see in us the guards, or the judge. They may express anger to our faces that is not directly aimed at us.

- Overall, is there progress being made with those who come? Does it improve their lives?

D.T.: The evaluation is difficult to make directly, because many times you say something now and it is exploited after a long period. There is a follow up monitoring and usually there are other needs that have emerged and will be identified at that moment. What we can measure is the number of ex-prisoners who have managed to get welfare relief, and will tell you with pleasure and relief "Thank you”. This is the direct feedback we get. And many times there are things that can seem so meaningless, such as writing a letter and sending it somewhere for them, but yet are important for them. They say “Thank you” and you say “I did not do anything; I am just doing my job."

- A general comment, is there something you would like to change?

: The main issue for me is Greek social policy; it is right to fund welfare and ex-prisoners, as this is the only way to stop the course of crime, the reproduction of crime which does not benefit anyone. And there are others who just need an opportunity. When they get this they can progress. I recently got a phone-call from an ex-prisoner who had actually restored his life and wanted to volunteer with us. His message was very optimistic: "You know something; if you try hard you manage”.

Even though the latter comment makes a very good conclusion to this interview, it is worth adding that the individual effort that each of us makes is not enough. Recently I met a man on the street, around 30-35, with a blank look like he could not focus or was not accustomed to looking others in the eye. An wretched figure, wandering among the crowd claiming he had just been released and needed money to return to his village. I summoned the courage to talk to him about Epanodos, I had doubts myself, because he looked so hard to talk to. He reacted with surprise, as if I were from another planet; he seemed to have lost any human contact long ago. The result was disappointing. He repeated like a mantra that he wants to go to his village, and muttered that no one could help.
Naturally, the above case is a random incident; the man may have been misleading, but this is not the point. The point is that if any of these people who circulate like "empty vessels" really want help, it should be administered. Prisons should provide clear and accurate information to the prisoner on the existing organizations that can help smooth reintegration into society. We must understand that life does not end for a man in jail, nor should they be punished forever, stigmatized and marginalized.

Nobody said that things are perfect. Let us not contribute however, to the decline.

Where justice is absent let us build it ourselves.


Emeritus Professor Calliope Spinellis
"Today, there are several well-qualified criminologists in Greece".

Victim offender mediation in family violence cases
The greek experience

by Vasso Artinopoulou,
Ass. Professor of Criminology,  Panteion University (GR) 
The article describes the implementation of victim offender mediation as provided by law in cases of domestic violence in Greece

Improving prison conditions in Greece
... by Nestor E. Courakis
Professor of Criminology & Penology
Faculty of Law, University of Athens (GR)
"This editorial is dedicated to prisons and the Greek penal system since we believe it is the duty of any society to give priority to correctional topics and have as its main objective to improve prison conditions.
How might this improvement be achieved, however?
With this issue we celebrate the English-language edition of the Greek electronic journal “The Art of Crime”. It would be trite to discuss here emotions such as elation and hope that of course are called for at a time like this. The overwhelming emotion, at least to me, is gratitude to the main protagonists of this first criminological electronic magazine in our country, i.e. to Fotios Spyropoulos and Dionysis Chionis ..."

Innocent prisoners and deceived offenders
"punishing somebody who is innocent is a crime"
Have you ever considered what it would be like to be wrongly arrested by the authorities, detained on remand, and after a few months it was proved that you had been wrongly accused and had nothing to do with the case? The issue of wrongful remand of prisoners came to light again in Greece with the case of a young man from the greek island of Mytilene who was arrested and prosecuted for rape and attempted serial rape of 5 women...

Constantine Gardikas
Constantine Gardikas, the son of George Gardikas, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Athens, was born in the city of Patras in 1896. Constantine Gardikas developed into a prolific scientist with a solid classical education.

He studied law in Athens, and he continued his studies in Zurich and Geneva specializing in criminal law and criminology.  He received his doctorate degree at the age of 22 and then started lecturing at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. ...

Advice on the use of credit cards

"Plastic money" has replaced cash as the dominant method of payment in our everyday transactions.
We are familiar, therefore, with the use of credit cards, but how well do we know to protect ourselves from credit card fraud?
Problems of reoffending of young detainees
Conclusions of the follow-up research of the Center for Penal and Criminological Research (University of Athens)
 by Nestor E. Courakis
       Professor of Criminology
       University of Athens (GR)
This research was characterized as a follow-up because its main purpose was to discover first, what happened to Greek juvenile detainees with whom we had run interviews in the previous stage of the research (1993) ...

“Asking people…”
Interesting questions and even more interesting responses

The events that took place in late 2008, in Greece, in the state correctional facilities, the hunger strike of prisoners and the widespread violent protests concerning prison conditions didn’t leave us unaffected. So we found the opportunity to ask people’s opinion on this important issue. We take the recorder into the street ... and ask YOUR opinion:

"Do you believe there must be changes in the conditions of imprisonment in our country and if so, what should they be?”


The profile of a famous greek criminal through the eye of a camera, the lyrics of a song and his autobiography

A book, a song, and a movie with the same protagonist…
Nikos Koemtzis, a famous Greek criminal who killed three people and stabbed seven more, all because he wanted to dance to a song he had "ordered" from the musicians in a music hall. He transferred the story of his life to a book. Dionysis Savvopoulos (a famous Greek singer-songwriter) read the book and turned it into a song. Pavlos Tassios (a well known Greek director) heard the song and made a film. And now we present a criminologist’s scientific analysis of this artistic triptych.
A case study of a recidivist criminal
This is the interesting story of a recidivist criminal (Elias) who is incarcerated in a Greek prison. We managed to interview him, unattended, in late May 1999 in a special area in the guardhouse yard. The main topic of our conversation was his life story, the life of a young man through the prison bars… 


Constanteion - Centre of Criminology & Psychology Researches

Federation of Prison Officers

Professor Nestor Courakis

Ministry of Citizen Protection

I feel safe

Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights

Hellenic Supreme Court of Civil and Penal Law


Professor Giannis Panousis

Centre for Psychoanalytic Research

Sector of Criminal Sciences - Faculty of Law - National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

Association of greek criminologists - Panteion University

Centre of Social Research - Technological Education Institute of Messolonghi

Sector of Criminology - Panteion University

Sector of Penal and Criminological Sciences - Faculty of Law - Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

European Court of Human Rights - Search Portal

Hellenic League for Human Rights

Marangkopoulos Foundation for Human Rights

Faculty of Law - National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

Centre for Penal and Criminological Research

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