On behalf of the Government, Statskontoret has evaluated the Swedish Prison and Probation Service's support of non-profit organisations. Since 2003, the Prison and Probation Service has had the right to decide to give government funding by virtue of the Ordinance (2002:954) on government funding to certain organisations in the Prison and Probation Service field. The government grant should be given to non-profit organisations that are devoted to promoting the rehabilitation of convicted persons into society. The Prison and Probation Service's appropriation directions specify how much of the Service's administrative grants may be used for this purpose.
Since 2003, government grants amounting to approximately SEK 90 million have been paid out to organisations. In 2014 the annual amount was increased from SEK 8 million to SEK 10 million. According to the Government, there are grounds for considering a further increase. The Prison and Probation Service suggested an increase to SEK 15 million in its budget documentation for 2014.
A large proportion of Government grants are spent on visits to detention centres and prisons
In 2014, ten organisations were awarded government grants. Riksförbundet frivilliga samhällsarbetare (RFS), Criminals' Return To Society (KRIS) and Riksbryggan together received two thirds of the total government grants. RFS receives funding for organising and supporting laypersons as probation supervisors. The government grants are otherwise mainly given to visiting activities which prepare inmates for their release from detention centres and prison. Some organisations direct their visiting activities at specific target groups, such as parents, inmates with neuropsychiatric diagnoses or those who have left, or who wish to leave criminal gangs.
The non-profit organisations complement the Prison and Probation Service in a valuable way
Our evaluation shows that the non-profit organisations are a valuable complement to the Prison and Probation Service's measures to prepare inmates for their release, and that the organisation's efforts include aspects which, according to research, are effective in reducing the number of repeat offenders. The organisations that receive government grants help to break the inmates' isolation, improve their mental well-being and create contacts with the rest of society. They also complement the Prison and Probation Service's efforts to motivate inmates to break with their addictions or criminal life styles. There is also value in the fact that the inmates can keep in contact with the organisations after they have left the prison and probation system.
Overall, Statskontoret concludes that government grants are given to operations which, alongside the Prison and Probation Service's efforts, are important puzzle pieces in promoting reintegration into society.
The Prison and Probation Service recognises the need for more cooperation with non-profit organisations
The survey sent by Statskontoret to all detention centres, prisons and probation offices shows that the Prison and Probation Service needs more cooperation with non-profit organisations, both those currently receiving government grants and those who do not. We also believe that, overall, both types of organisations could utilise a limited increase of government grants in a suitable way.
Statskontoret believes that the Prison and Probation Service should consider increasing the share of grants given to activities at detention centres and in the probation system. Our survey shows that detention centres and probation offices generally have a greater need for an increase in their operations than the prisons do. There is value in an organisation being able to support an inmate all the way from the detention centre and prison to the probation system.
Reasonable to increase the government grant to SEK 15 million
Overall, Statskontoret believes that the Prison and Probation Service's suggested increase of the government grant from SEK 10 million to SEK 15 million is reasonable. The increase should be implemented in two steps in order for the organisations to be able to plan their operations.
The Ordinance needs to be clarified
Our evaluation shows that the Ordinance (2002:954) which regulates the government grant needs to be clarified in several ways in order to be more appropriate.
We make several recommendations to the Government in respect of how it can be clarified, including establishing that the government grant should be an operational grants or project grant with clear demands with regard to the performance expected in return. The Prison and Probation Service already mainly approves grants for specific operations.
The Prison and Probation Service needs to review its conditions for awarding grants
We make several recommendations to the Prison and Probation Service, including a review of their conditions for awarding grants. Today, the Agency prioritises things such as activities that prepare persons for release from prison and detention centres, ahead of probation-focused activities. Within the probation system, grants mostly go to the organising of laypersons as probation officers. However, there is no documentation to back up this prioritisation, which makes it difficult for organisations and other parties within the Prison and Probation Service to know what applies as far as the management of government grants is concerned.
Statskontoret recommends that the Prison and Probation Service reviews whether there is reason to change the current conditions and priorities. This should be carried out in consultation with regional and local representatives for the Agency, and together with the organisations that operate in the prison and probation field. The conditions and priorities should be documented in internal guidelines.
Statskontoret also recommends that the Prison and Probation Service should formulate clearer decisions so that it is always evident what activities are approved for grants, that it should review how obstacles to cooperating with non-profit organisations can be eliminated, that it should improve its internal follow-up of how the organisations' activities work and that it should develop its reporting to the Government with regards to the government grant.