Open day at the Criminal Sanctions Agency of Finland

Anastasia Artemeva

На русском языке

August 26th 2017 was an Open day at the Criminal Sanctions Agency of Finland. We visited the main event at the Training Institute of Prison and Probation Services in Vantaa. This event was part of the celebration of 100 years of Finnish Independence, and the aim was to showcase the work done within the Agency, work in prison and community sanctions the service imposes. There were guided tours of the training facilities, an exhibition to showcase how the system has been developing in the past 150 years, films to see how the prisons are equipped. In other Finnish cities, such as Hämeenlinna and and Mikkeli, door to the actual prisons were open to visitors.

Stalls of the different departments of the Agency were full of brochures  presenting prevention programs,  educational facilities in prisons, support available for the families of imprisoned men and women.  There were prison guards there, standing next to a sign “ask us anything you ever wanted to know about our work”. A black K9 labrador patiently let school kids pat his head, men looked at various tracking devises, young kids drew in the art corner.

Down the corridor was a large sale of prison produce. Goods ranged from metal smoke pots for fish, knitted mittens and textiles, chopping boards and other household accessories, as well as fresh cucumbers and courgettes grown in the prison garden, for the price of four for a euro. We purchased a wooden SISU toy truck, loaded with logs.

A visual exhibition presented the history of prison in Finland. Photographs dating form the time of the Civil war showed the Reds being hoarded off, mannequins were dressed in prison robes, and a display of handcuffs and lock picks, as well as a collection of coins used for payment of wages showed different aspects of everyday life in prison. 

Criminology library is located in the Training Institute and is open to the public. Books and publications published by the Institute are available for sale. I was very surprised to find a Dictionary of Finnish-Russian and Russian-Finnish dictionary of prison and criminological terms”, edited by Vera Suomalainen, Harri Lampinen, Tuomo Pöyhönen. It is a part of a series, published to help Finnish prison staff to communicate with foreign inmates.