The InReach project: from penitentiary to forensic hospital
Wouter Stassen, Petra Habets, Astrid Mertens, Jan De laender, Inge Jeandarme
Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities
– In Belgium approximately a quarter of forensic psychiatric patients reside within penitentiaries instead of treatment facilities. This situation has yielded the Belgian government several convictions from the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. In an attempt to facilitate admissions from penitentiary to psychiatric hospital, the Forensic Department of the psychiatric hospital in Rekem (OPZC Rekem), has piloted the InReach project. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
– The objective of this project is to engage a psychiatric nurse on the ward in pretherapeutic and motivational activities on a regular basis in the penitentiary for vulnerable groups of forensic psychiatric patients, forming a bridge between penitentiary and hospital. The InReach project even considers patients who have no desire to leave the penitentiary (e.g. due to their psychiatric profile). A motivational approach is used to support these patients in making the transition from penitentiary to hospital.
– The current article describes the focus of the InReach project (procedures and InReach candidate profiles) together with the first impressions of the progress that has been made by the InReach project. In addition two case studies of InReach patients are presented. The InReach project is clearly needed in Belgium and because of its success it has been extended to another penitentiary. It is probable the two other medium-security wards will also be included in the project in the near future.
– The Belgian government has received several convictions from the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg because a substantial number of forensic psychiatric patients reside within penitentiaries instead of treatment facilities. The InReach project presented in this paper is clearly needed in Belgium and was implemented to initiate and facilitate the transition from penitentiaries to treatment facilities. The need for this type of project is reflected in the number of forensic psychiatric patients that reside within a penitentiary and that are not able or willing to make the transition to a treatment facility because of their psychiatric profile.