Between June 2010 and June 2013, PRI’s South Caucasus office implemented a three-year programme, funded by the Open Society Foundations, to address the overuse of imprisonment in Georgia and to reduce chronic overcrowding in Georgian prisons.
Over the project period, the prison population of Georgia fell by 60% from 23,114 prisoners in 2010 to only 9,185 in June 2013. While the significant decrease in in large part due to a widespread amnesty by the new Georgian government which came to power in October 2012, this impact evaluation assesses the project’s success against three intended outcomes:
- Increased use of community service as an alternative to imprisonment
- Increased use of parole as a mechanism for early release
- Offenders released early on health grounds.
Key findings from the evaluation, together with an assessment of PRI’s contribution, include the following.
- The use of community service increased in the project time-frame, rising by 125% from 2011 to 2012. PRI provided support to the government to establish community service legislation; worked with the National Probation Service to train probation staff on community service orders, developed tools for supervision, and raised awareness among government and public stakeholders on the value of community service.
- The number of offenders released on parole increased year on year during the project’s lifetime, rising by 30% from 2010 to 2011. The number rose still further in 2012, largely as a result of the actions of the new government which activated the use of parole and released over 200 prisoners within a month of taking power. While PRI found it hard to engage with the previous government on the issue of parole and therefore its influence was limited within the project lifetime, it was able to engage more on the issue towards the end of the project. For example, in June 2013 it held a meeting with high-level government officials and parole boards to present research on assessing risks and needs for the early release of prisoners. Since then, this research has been used by the government to develop an assessment questionnaire to help inform parole decisions.
- The number of prisoners released on health grounds also increased. PRI was at the forefront of a civil society advocacy campaign to improve legislation and practice regarding the release of gravely ill prisoners, organising meetings to identify gaps in existing legislation and producing an analysis of existing medical regulations determining release in this area.
This evaluation forms part of a series of evaluations being undertaken by PRI in an effort to test and develop methods to rigorously assess and effectively communicate the medium-to-long-term impact of PRI’s projects and programmes.
The evaluation was carried out by PRI’s Evaluation and Learning Adviser in June 2013 using a quantitative research methodology known as Process Tracing. Process tracing identifies target outcomes and then focuses data collection and analysis on determining the extent to which these targeted outcomes were realised and the importance of the project’s contribution to those outcomes.
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