Criminal Justice Reform pmartinho May 11, 2022

Criminal Justice Reform

Many jurisdictions worldwide require concerted efforts towards the reform of their criminal justice systems. Under the umbrella of one all-embracing integrated strategy, we develop and promote fair, effective and proportionate responses to criminal justice issues and challenges worldwide.

In order to achieve this goal, we offer a range of comprehensive services that are integrated into turn-key projects, especially focusing a few fundamental vectors: policy development, international benchmarking, research and intervention, master-planning and design, corporate restructuring and performance management.

Hence, more often than not, the reform of a criminal justice system involves a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach, which we accomplish by making use of a highly trained network of national and international experts.

The way we carry out policy development strives to go beyond the political environment demands and the involved parties’ idiosyncrasies


The policy development process consists of a sequence of functional activities, starting with the detection of the fundamental problem.

Downstream, the agenda formulation and the evaluation are key stages of the policy development endeavour. Thereby, we pursue the employment of thorough and high-quality research, which, in turn, is generated by a team who understands the politics, power, and policy dynamics that govern the criminal justice system and its numerous stakeholders.

In order to carry out policy development, we rely on clear answers that are revealed by competent research and assessment, as, at the same time, we hear and assemble all the stakeholders, whose involvement cherish above all. As a consequence of such an approach, we open the best pathways into proper and effective decision making.

International benchmarking services directed to achieve sustainable improvements in operational efficiency and effectiveness

Our team uses a rigorously defined taxonomy of prison functional processes and activities that ensures reliable comparisons across different prison systems.

We work with your correctional partners to quickly complete the acquisition of prison benchmark data, using customised client portals and online data-validation tools.

After the analysis, a set of comprehensive fact-based findings is delivered to the client to establish a baseline for prison system current performance, providing results against an appropriate peer group, defining and quantifying the prison system/prison unit performance gaps, both in terms of functional efficiency and effectiveness, and prioritising prison process improvement initiatives, ranging from quick wins to longer-term projects.

We master-plan and design infrastructures that are comprehensively justice-centred

We believe that any Justice infrastructure should aim to be part of a comprehensive and integrated justice-centred solution, one that seeks to streamline and accelerate police, prosecution and court activity, as well as it strives to utilize, where appropriate, custodial alternatives.

Moreover, where custodial sanctions are seen as appropriate, they should aim at introducing systems of prisoner assessment and classification to enable the most effective and appropriate use of the existing prison estate.

The process of prison or other types of correctional facility construction should be preceded by: 

  • A review of the operation and flows within the justice system;
  • An analysis of possibilities of the use of non-custodial alternatives to custody;
  • An analysis of systems of prisoner assessment, classification and placement;
  • Recommendations for systemic improvements, alternative sanctions, means of community-based pre-trial/remand supervision, treatment programmes and other criminal process improvements;
  • An assessment of the physical plant of existing penitentiaries to determine the possibilities of retaining and upgrading existing facilities versus building new ones;
  • An assessment of the scope for on-site improvements.

The purpose of this extensive approach is to consider if adjustments can be made within the justice sector that will:

  • Improve the speed of prosecution;
  • Make better use of community dispositions;
  • Maintain an appropriate balance in offender placements and prisoner classification systems rather than utilising resources solely on expensive prison building;
  • Provide a thorough assessment of the state of the prison infrastructure and put in place cost proposals for either its refurbishment or its replacement.

This service is provided through a partnership with CGL, with whom we bring together international experts with wide experience in prison systems master-planning.

Any step towards criminal justice reform requires divisive changes and a strong commitment to assertive reorganisation practices

Business restructuring might as well be one of the most important watchwords when we look at criminal justice institutions. Criminal justice reform demands a deep commitment to change and the assertive addressing of divisive issues.

A set of comprehensive innovation projects carried-out over several years has enabled us to tackle any corporate reorganisation with an assertive approach.

Not only we assess, plan and implement changes in operations that are outside the ordinary course of business, but we also work the corporate culture, so that it follows up the business strategy. We believe that culture provides the enabling process environment for operability of the organisation strategy, as it drives identity, collective commitment, stability, and it also functions as a sense-making device.

Definitely, the restructuring process will produce positive results in several business areas, especially service enhancement, improved management, leverage gains, and the accomplishment of correctional and probation services mission and goals.

Our most prominent experience, as far as business restructuring and innovation are concerned, sought to achieve the change of the organisational culture towards the Responsive Governance model, to implement quality management and continuous improvement system and establish a framework of collaborative work.

Supporting justice administrations decision-making process through a comparative analysis 

The wide discussion on the privatisation of public services has revolved mostly around arguments based on the ideological background of political decision-makers rather than the studies that may support them.

In fact, in most European countries there are not comprehensive studies assessing the best options for the modernisation of justice and correctional services comparing different models (including partial or full-privatisation) tested (with successes and failures) in various countries around the world.

IPS supports you to develop a comprehensive assessment – as a basis for policymaking – comprising the various options for outsourcing of correctional services, as well as models of financing, management and monitoring in the face of these options.

We use research as a valuable asset upon which our knowledge transfer activities are planned and implemented

Intervention in the criminal justice field differs from that of other realms. The framework for intervening within the criminal justice systems is wide, ranging from corrections’ staff capacitation to inmates’ rehabilitation through mentoring, for example. If researchers understand the decision-making and policy-development processes, they are able to provide research that will meet policy and downstream intervention needs and generate change in this field.

Hence, at IPS we undertake applied research projects involving research institutions and prison administrations from the very beginning of the process.

IPS is also a founding member of the BSAFE LAB law enforcement, justice and public safety research and technology transfer laboratory established by UBI Beira Interior University.

BSAFE LAB is an open interdisciplinary research and technology transfer laboratory aiming to foster and develop new research and technology transfer in the fields of law enforcement, justice and public safety in scientific areas ranging from arts & humanities, including law, history and philosophy, biological & medical sciences, physical sciences & engineering, social & behavioural sciences & education.

Discovering suitable funding opportunities

Over the last almost twenty years, our team has been partnering with public and private organisations searching for a wide range of funding opportunities – the ones that best fit the needs of our partners’ strategy.

In the prison and probation contexts, we’ve been able to work together with administrations from different countries in order to find the proper funding strategy sourcing national, European or World Bank funding.

Together, as partners, we can:

  • Develop the proper funding strategy;
  • Identify adequate funding sources;
  • Develop applications for funding according to your needs and funding schemes requirements;
  • Select the most suitable transnational partnerships;
  • Develop and manage the administrative requirements of the project.


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Ecological Economics in Prison Work Administration


European Induction Support for Adult Learning Professionals to the Correctional Criminal Justice System


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Implementation of the Stockholm’s Roadmap in cases of terrorism and radicalisation


Holistic Radicalisation Prevention Initiative (Balkan countries)


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Strengthening a comprehensive approach to preventing and counteracting radicalisation based on a universal evidence-based model for evaluation of radicalisation prevention and mitigation


Judicial cooperation for the enhancement of mutual recognition regarding probation measures and alternative sanctions


Leadership development for occupational stress reduction in correctional settings


Development and testing of a process chain for the placement of former detainees as specialists in the labour market


European Prison Officers for the 21st Century


Alternative pre-trial detention measures: Judicial awareness and cooperation towards the realisation of common standards


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Radicalisation Prevention Competences’ Development Programme for Justice Professionals


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