A relatively short time after our special issue on desistance, this new EuroVista appears. The reason is that we had a number of articles ready for publication already before the special issue and we want to publish them now while the ink is not completely dry yet.
This issue, then, is not a themed one, but still there is something special about it. All the articles are written or co-written by practitioners, former practitioners or people who have been closely involved in the daily practice of probation. It is one thing to hear the voice of academics, another to hear desisters and a third to hear from those who, at the end of the day, form our primary target-group. David Wood, Helen Collins and her colleague John Graham, Will Hughes, Brian Stout, Mary Anne McFarlane and our own Rob Canton have extensive experience as practitioners, either before in time or at present, and Ioan Durnescu is no stranger to daily practice either. Torunn Højdahl, to complete the picture, has extensive experience as a program deliverer and has published three evaluation reports of the Norwegian community sentence in the past.
Other than that, there is no red thread running through the various contributions, although some similarity can be distinguished among the individual articles. David Wood reports from a piece of action research that was undertaken in Liverpool on the induction-process – some might call it “intake” – as viewed by both practitioners and probationers. Redesigning induction as an orientation seems to be an effective way of making the first steps of the journey to desistance. Helen Collins and John Graham describe the GALLANT- that was carried out by the Durham Tees Probation Trust project and the research done on it. The model of progressive supervision that is employed here appears to have achieved good results. These two articles could, as such, also have been included in the special issue of EuroVista on Offender Engagement (EuroVista 2.1, now also freely available at www.euro-vista.org).
This goes also for Will Hughes’s article on service user engagement. He takes a critical look at the development of a new practice framework within the Offender Engagement Programme and the relationship to the quality of sentence planning. Here too, the issue of the probationer – practitioner relationship is very central.
Such relationships seldom become more intensive than they are during the delivery of a specific behavioural program. In an earlier issue, EuroVista 2.3, Torunn Højdahl and her colleagues described the VINN-program, developed especially for female offenders. This program is used by correctional services in a range of countries, and the authors have undertaken a qualitative study of the way the program has been experienced by the participants which they report upon here as a follow-up to the previous contribution.
Brian Stout and Mary Anne McFarlane provide us with exotic news in this issue. The first article is set partly in Europe and partly in Australia. It describes the similarities and the differences between these two “jurisdictions” in the process of sentence transfer. The EU’s Framework Decision 947 is contrasted with the Cross-Border Justice Scheme and although FD 947 has not been used much yet – if at all – some lessons can be learned from the Australian experience. Mary Anne McFarlane also deals with transfer questions, but here it involves policy transfer instead of transfer of sentences. There have been many instances of cross-border assistance in recent years, and most of those have had to do with collaboration with Eastern European countries. The situation described here is somewhat different, as is the methodology that was used. Jordan is a country with specific features that are not always common in our European culture and transfer of policy is (even further) complicated by such factors. McFarlane employed a specific model that creates an opportunity to take this into account.
Someone who has published on policy transfer before is EuroVista editor Rob Canton. In 2006 he wrote about his experiences in Ukraine in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 45, nr. 5. Here, however, he addresses another issue with international as well as national aspects, and which often is the subject of well- or ill-advised policy transfer: risk assessment. In this case it is considered in relationship to the European Probation Rules. His contribution was delivered before in oral form at a seminar on Assessment and Pre-sentence Work in Oslo in the spring of 2012.
Finally, we have a long and important article by Pascal Décarpes and Ioan Durnescu on where we are in resettlement research. This provides an extensive overview of research done in this field, and the theoretical background behind it. It is hard to give a short description of the contents in the context of this editorial and I will not try to do so either. Read it if you want to stay up to date.
That leaves us with eight contributions on different aspects of the fascinating world of corrections, with a focus on probation – everyday work, set into or taken out of a theoretical framework, since the two are so closely interrelated. Each of them provides nourishment to the other, but remember the words of Albert Einstein: ‘In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.’