Justice Assistance

The Center, a permanent subdivision of INDEM, works in partnership with government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to design and implement projects that test innovations in the justice system. Its staff also conducts research in criminal justice issue and policies. CJA main activities are: judicial, police and penal reforms. Within these areas CJA has conducted the following projects:

Pilot project “InformUspekh-2”(Informsuccess-2). This experiment is aimed at preparing juveniles for life back in their communities (2005-2006)

Pilot project “The first contact”. Project is aimed at improving police-citizen relations by modifying the registration, recording and crime detection system (2004)

Pilot project “InformUspekh” (Informsuccess) on the preparation for release of the juveniles, in Mozhaisk detention center (2004)

“Free legal aid to the poor” - Studies of the problems in the sphere of free legal assistance in the Russian Federation

Project “Taking into consideration citizen’s priorities while planning and assessment of the police activities (2004)

Opportunities for improving police-citizen relations through police performance evaluation (Research paper) (2003)

The results of the conference “A new vision of the law-enforcement authorities: strengthening of a social service related function” (2003)

Nizhniy Novgorod pilot project of justice assistance (2002). Project was designed to reduce the average duration of the pretrial detention in the remand prison of Nizhnii Novgorod.

Materials of the conference “The juveniles in the criminal and executive system”(2002)

“Freedom limitation: pro’s and con’s (Research paper) (2002)

“What should the society know about judicial power?” A report (2002)

“Participation of the jury in criminal proceedings” A report (2002)

“Legal regulation of rehabilitation in criminal proceedings” A report (2002)

“Improving police-community relations in Russia: Access to justice and the system of detecting, registering and recording crime. A report (2001)

“The conception of judicial reform: from the Principles to Practice” A report (2001)

“Reducing jail overcrowding in Russia: what works?” A report (2001)

“Parole and post-release supervision” A report(2001)

“The impact of the Amnesty of 2000 and the perennial prison population in Russia” A report. (2001)

Synopsis of the programs


In May 2005 in two juvenal correctional facilities the Center for justice assistance started the implementation of the program “InformUspekh-2” aimed at the amendment of institutional design of the activities of two special services and specialists of juvenal correctional facilities in the field of re-socialization of minor detainees. The goal of the program is to fill the gap between the availability of techniques of re-socialization of juveniles and the lack of organizational methods for the said tools. The shortage of organization results from a number of causes was taken into account by the program developers:

This is far from being a complete list of the factors causing low effectiveness of both present and new techniques of re-socialization of adolescents in Russia.

Of course the most important cause is the deficiency of elaboration of alternative forms of penalty. A symbolic execution of alternative penalty in contemporary Russia results in the situation when neither specialists, organizations or society are not interested in mastering new techniques.

It’s important to realize what and in which way should be modified in the institutional design of services activity.

First, it is important to modify the system of planning of activity on re-socialization on the basis of introduction of the principle of command-forming and network-forming around every adolescent (the intensity of intervention and the saturation of the “network” are in direct proportion to the level of complexity of the problems held by the adolescent on the way to re-socialization).

Second, it’s necessary to reorganize the system of management of the re-socialization process. This task is not of responsibility of any service, it is of importance to work out a system that proposes the distribution of responsibility among all the necessary participants of the process of re-socialization.

Third, it’s important to engage the specialists in the process of analysis of their unproductive professional purposes and in active process of transformation of these purposes into the principles of anti-discriminatory practices.

The most important condition of achieving these goals lies in creation of the area of interdisciplinary and interagency cooperation, when specialists of different services and profile work together on resolving of this specific task - preparation of the adolescent to the release. The process of resolution, of this problem gives an opportunity for introduction of new knowledge and skills since specialists face the shortage of competence. The supervision for command work of specialists, disposes to a positive humour while development of professional purposes.

The experience of the program “InformUspekh” carried out by the INDEM Foundation in 2003-2005 made it clear that the oriented instruction of the colony officers doesn’t provide the solution to the problem, of equipping the process of preparation for release with new effective working procedures. That’s why the instruction should be integrated in the process of the real professional practices.

Another criterion for achievement of planned modifications consists in the analysis of the organization structure of colony officers’ service, and that of other agencies with the purpose that the introduction of new forms of work and the organization of re-socialization would be accepted by the specialists.

The expansion of the experiment by the “InformUspekh-2” program will be based on the analysis of the existing experience gained by the organization of re-socialization in Russia. Since all Russian projects are based on borrowed foreign knowledge we propose to analyze the experience of other states within the context of connection of strategies and organizational conditions for their implementation ( to perceive the possibilities and limits of the transfer of foreign experience into Russian environment). Then we are going to analyze the Russian experience as well, with the view to determine the possibility of expanding our own strategy of managing the process of re-socialization of adolescents.

“The first contact”

In 2004 the Center successfully put an end to the experimental stage of the project “Pervy Kontakt (The first contact)” aimed at improving the system of registration of committed crimes .

The experimental project “The First Contact” demonstrated the possibilities of resolving one of the key-tasks consisting in the fact that any individual, who became victim of a felony, regardless of his social and economical status, age, sex, nationality, in case of resort to police has to be provided access to the judicial system (in its broader sense). In that way the most common problem faced by an ordinary citizen trying to announce a crime (expressed in the form of refusing to register his application) may be overcome. The second goal is achieved while implementing “the First Contact” project- improving the awareness of the police due to introduction of a registration form characterized by superior informational saturation that allows inquiry and investigation bodies to get more information from the applicant about committed crimes that have importance for their exposure. The registration form drawn up by CJA represents a software program containing questions and possible variants of the reply. Its paper analogue is also filled in. The information provided by the applicant as of a felony or offence with indices of crime is inserted in the form by putting marks per contra the corresponding variant of reply. This way of completion of a form is more of a progress in terms of information gathering, making it possible to analyze promptly the committed act and to pass the information for reaction. It takes 5-10 minutes to fill in a form depending on the amount of information to report. In contrast to the application form, a uniform blank is filled out by the duty officer who interviewed the complainant. This procedure simplifies the completion of a form by the civilian and represents the aspect positively influencing on the attitude of citizens to the police. Once the blank is filled out the information contained in it is inserted into the software program.

Due to the informational saturation the registration form allows the bodies of internal affairs to get data which act positively on quality of reaction for applications and messages. The form, in contrast to the Book of messages registration includes questions concerning information about what had happened before a crime, information about witnesses. Consequently a detailed database is developed for the militia officers to work with.

Database is created on the basis of registration forms and the developed software allows to analyze information gathered in order to detect precise locus deliciti and time of endeavor, to track modus operandi, to reveal crimes executed by the group with the use of weapon or physical menace.

All these factors increase analytical and informational potentialities of militia officers’ work, since they provide ability to get information about incidents distribution in city districts. They also substantially facilitate search and analyze similar violations of the law and create effective and optimal routes of patrol for PPS and other militia personnel.

Another positive substantial part of the project “First Contact” is the activity of public investigator assistants engaged in the informing of citizens applying to militia bodies with questions which are not in the competence of the militia officers. In this case PIA provide citizens with all necessary information about, for example, how to replace lost documents, where it is possible to get medical care or pass medical examination. In the citizens’ aid centers victims of crime can get additional information about non-governmental and non-commercial organizations, rending psychological and social or any other assistance. Simultaneously it unloads additional missions from militia bodies. In these cases a citizen is personally able to help himself but he needs advice on which specified and competent organizations he should apply for.

The results of project “First contact “ show that in the ranks of the Internal affairs there are officers interested in reforming their activities. They are ready to be liable for risk of responsibility and ready to test new mechanisms, improving quality of work. These men also think about betterment of their relations with the population.

Positively estimating in general the ideas of project “First Contract” the experts paid attention to the followings in case of development and implementation for the project in future:

The next step will be implementation of project positive results in existing system of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“Inform Success”

From November 2003 to May 2005 the INDEM Foundation has been carrying out project “Inform Success” aimed at improving the process of discharge preparations for the minors serving their sentence. The project is conducting in the correctional colony of Mozhaisk in cooperation with GUIN (the Chief Department of Penalty Execution) of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

The aim of the project is to provide assistance to successful adaptation of minors discharged and raise their chances to find themselves in common life through improving the preparation process for discharge, performed by the officers of correctional colony. It is also performed due to the awareness level of minors, their parents, relatives about their rights and abilities to realize them.

The most successful part of the project was the group activities preparing discharge. Methods which really operate were designed and tested (it was confirmed by the surveys conducted with those who was discharged during the project). The lessons were organized not only by colony officers, but also by representatives of external social services (representatives from the commission for cases of minors and protection of their rights, subdivisions of interior affairs bodies for cases of minors, placement service, guardianship and trusteeship bodies, center of social assistance for family and children of the regional center “Family”, public organization “AIDS East-West”). It’s very important because it gives the officers of external offices a possibility to get acquainted with youth that have to work there after their discharge, to get to know their situation and problems in advance. We succeeded to change the attitude of colony officers to this preparation for discharge course (it is indicative that now they call it “our preparation for discharge course”, they also make proposals about lessons of improvement, imagine new forms of teaching), as well as to the inmates of colony (during the lessons plenty of them showed themselves from the other side). This project has made youth think about their future, but the main thing revealed by the lessons is that the youth have great potential for normal communication and getting information about life “out of colony”. This potential can also be used in an effort to shape active and deliberate attitude to life.

But individual work faced some problems: 1) insufficient legal competence; 2) officers motivation absence, 3) shortage of personnel.

In compliance with the Provision about social protection group and seniority registration of work-farm prisoners of the Ministry of Justice of Russia, approved by the regulation of Main Department for Penalty Execution from 22 March 2004 ¹ 75, activities concerning juvenile discharge preparations are conducted by the group of social protection and prisoners seniority registration which includes senior specialist for social activities, senior inspector for domestic adaptation and placing in a job, senior inspector for prisoners seniority registration. The abovementioned Provision distinguishes responsibilities between these officers. In the work-farm of Mozhaisk up to the present moment there is only one officer from this group - senior inspector for domestic adaptation and placing in a job, having no appropriate education (in compliance with the Provision these posts are occupied by persons possessing higher professional education with specialty in “social work”, “teaching” and “psychology”, or passed retraining courses with specialty in “social work”.

Moreover the work is complicated in view of absence of real cooperation in solving problems of domestic adaptation and placing in a job of minors with external social services. To improve this scheme in the limits of project two instruments were designed “Manual for individual work” and software (computer program providing information input about specified prisoner so the user can get the plan of solving problems concerning domestic adaptation and placing in a job with forms of appropriate documents: letters of inquiry, applications, written statements for different bodies and organizations, working with minors at large, information about such bodies and organizations).

The realization of the project “Inform Success” demonstrated one more time that to achieve these goals, the work with minors before, during and after imprisonment should be performed within the limits of one system, solving unified problems. At that all organizations-parts of this system should not only know about each other but also cooperate and their competence should be strictly distinguished. The servicemen of criminal executive system should involve local bodies and organizations, which also prepare a teenager to discharge if he is a resident of their territory as well as prepared them for his discharge.

At that the following directions should be involved:

Work with the closest surroundings of a teenager, his family to which he’ll return. (Prepare basis for separate living if necessary); Establish contact with relatives, friends who can support a teenager after discharge; special programs for orphans with no guardians in charge, social orphans;

Work on reformatory institutions officers in preparing teenagers for discharge; effective cooperation colony officers with each other and external organizations in solving problems such as placing a job for teens after discharge, awareness about their rights and duties and instill habits for their realization, teaching them how to plan their lives, to be liable for their life, to foresee the consequences of their deeds, to build relations with other people, professional teaching of teens;

Work with teenagers after discharge which is executed by governmental bodies and local autonomous bodies, public organizations.

The project “Inform Success” should be developed in all directions but first of all it is necessary to implement methods already designed, tested and well showed them. Then it is very important to establish contact with external organizations and create a so-called “insuring net” from the organizations round a colony, which will participate in teenagers’ preparation for discharge and help them to specialize after discharge.

In addition INDEM Foundation in accordance with the proposal of MDPE of Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation taking into account experience gained during the project, realization will take part in activities of work group appointed to draw up draft of law: “On social rehabilitation of former prisoners”.

“Free legal aid to the poor”

From 2003 the Center for Justice Assistance (CJA) has been conducting researches in the sphere of free legal assistance. In 2004 a report was published- “Organizing of free legal assistance: principles, models and their adaptation in the Russian Federation”. This report surveys international experience in the sphere of free legal assistance and shows existing models and principles (universal standards) generally accepted in the international practice

In 2004 CJA with the support of Initiative “Right of public interests” conducted the survey of present situation in the sphere of free legal assistance in the Russian Federation.

Specialists have analyzed the Legislation of the Russian Federation, which governs providing of free legal assistance, they also have studied rules of international law, constitutional provisions, regulations of the federal law and legislative acts of subjects of the Russian Federation which stipulate rights’ guarantees in the sphere of free legal assistance, particularly in criminal cases. Being analyzed subordinate acts adopted in the development of the rules of federal laws. These acts regulate relations in the sphere of free legal assistance in Russia.

The center gathered and analyzed advocates’ chambers acts of the subjects of the Russian Federation, which govern procedure of free legal assistance to advocates, acting as a defense counsel during the criminal procedure. The studies were conducted in more than one third of the Russian Federation subjects. It was also found that some subjects of the Russian Federation preserved the procedure of legal assistance by advocates acting in criminal procedure and appointed by inquiry bodies, preliminary investigations agencies, prosecution or court. This procedure had been common before. The Advocates’ law was passed. In plenty of regions these acts are under development, conformation and approval.

The Center gathered and analyzed statistics about Advocates’ association activities for several years, about the Register of advocates execution by the territorial bodies of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, about institutions of justice appointed to control Bar activities (about disposal of citizens’ applications for advocates activities and providing free legal assistance, about presenting applications for advocate status elimination for their further submitting to a court to advocates’ chambers).

The practice of Bar legislation use particularly providing free legal assistance was studied by the survey of case material (Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Supreme Court of Russia, their plenums and presidiums).

With the support of the Initiative “Right of public interests” very demonstrative, in our view, surveys of the advocates, judges, officers of inquiry bodies and investigation agencies were conducted. The results of the surveys were processed and generalized. For conducting this kind of surveys three types of work sheets were drawn up. These surveys should be treated more as pilot ones, but in case of adjustment of their examinational part with due consideration of educts, this method can be used for carrying out informative, scientifically grounded and representative research in the future.

The results obtained during the aforementioned survey were colligated in report, also prepared with the support of Initiative “Right of public interests”.

The report analyzes Legislation of the Russian Federation currently in force, this Legislation governs free legal assistance. In the report rules of international law, Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws and other regulatory legal acts of the Russian Federation and subjects of the Russian Federation, regulatory legal acts adopted by advocates’ chambers in the subjects of the Russian Federation were examined. Various statistical data and other practical information were also studied. Surveys of judges, inquiry and investigation agency officers and advocates were conducted. In due consideration of the CJA activities, it focused its efforts on the analyzing of free legal assistance system condition in criminal procedure when defense counsel is appointed by inquiry and preliminary investigation agencies, prosecution and court. Researches carried out and data gathered will be the basis for projects realization in civil procedure as well. The researches mentioned above made it possible to reveal and formulate main problems existing in the sphere of free legal assistance during the criminal and civil procedure (see the report or its summary). This fact gives us the possibility to schedule further activities of CJA in this direction.

The actuality of the problems revealed was confirmed by the participants of Round table “Access to justice: the problems of free legal assistance in Russian Federation and international experience”, held in November 2004. Among its participants there were advocates, scientists, representatives of public organizations engaged in free legal assistance in Russia and in foreign countries. Officers of CJA took part in organizing and holding this round table.

We’d like to note that for the last year we established constructive relations with the directorate of Federal advocates’ chamber and representatives from advocates’ chambers of the subjects of the Russian Federation. The trilateral Agreement about cooperation between Federal advocates’ chamber of the Russian Federation, the INDEM Foundation and Initiative “Right of public interests” was signed in order to improve the system of free legal assistance to the citizens in the Russian Federation.

It is expected that future activities in this sphere can be conducted in 3 directions: 1) improving the legislation governing free legal assistance in Russia; 2) drawing up of model Procedure for free legal assistance to advocates engaged in criminal procedure as a defense counsel and appointed by inquiry and preliminary investigation agencies, prosecution and court; 3) participating of CJA in establishing and functioning of legal aid service in the territory of a subject of the Russian Federation.

Nizhniy Novgorod project for justice assistance (NPJA)

From 2000-2003 the Center of Justice Assistance subordinate to the INDEM foundation had been the partner of NPJA. CJA provides scientific and informational support.

NPJA was a pilot project of the Institute “Open Society” and the Justice Institute “VERA”. The project carried out its activities in cooperation with law enforcement bodies of Nizhniy Novgorod city and with the support of Representative office of the Russian president in Privoljskiy federal district. The main aim of the project was to reduce the number of prisoners in the trial center due to reduction of holding in custody terms during preliminary investigation.

In cooperation with directorate of Nizhniy Novgorod trial center the automatic system of arrested person registration was integrated. Having analyzed terms of holding in custody for the accused people according to case phases (diagram 1) we can make a conclusion that preliminary investigation takes the most time. Thus the project aims at the reduction of holding in custody terms during this case phase.

Diagram 1

Average time of detention

(as of January 31, 2002)

A – From the moment of arrest till arriving to the pre-trial detention center.

B – From the moment of coming to the pre-trial detention center till assertion of indictment

C - From submission of the case to the court till announcement of the judgment

D - From announcement of the judgment till it coming into force

E - From the closure of criminal proceeding till leaving the pre-trial detention center


16 public investigator assistants carried out the activities in 8 regional investigation departments. They were responsible for gathering and check up of information about arrested persons, executing non-procedural documents, notifying participants of criminal procedure, carrying out all other organizational and technical operations, contributed forwarding of the procedure.

Results of the work:

In 2001, due to the project, assistance was provided as of 601 criminal cases and 389 of them were finished with medium terms of investigation reduction for 32 (experimental group).

Economic benefit

The results of the work on reducing the period of investigation

(per day)

Control Experimental

According the data of Main Department for Penalty Execution in Nizhni Novgorod region the cost of one prisoner held in the trial center including expenses for meals, medical care, clothing, municipal services, stuff allowance, guard and convoy equals 2500-3000 rubles per month.

Estimating economic benefit of project for 6 months in 2001 year it is safe to say that federal funds economy comprises 1300000 rubles. This sum is enough to pay monthly wages in the amount of 3000 rubles for 30 public investigator assistants for almost a year.

Present days the project provides assistance only for 65 % of prisoners’ criminal cases. If it covers all cases of arrested persons the amount of economic benefit will be much more impressive.

If reduction of preliminary investigation terms of each criminal case for 20 days on average happens, federal funds economy for prisoners holding in trial center will comprise 4 million rubles per year.

The project tested in Nizhniy Novgorod region is not only effective but also almost free of charge thus only call for administrative resources is needed without substantial financial investments. The results of the project are universal and so can be introduced in all subjects of the Russian Federation without additional preparations and financial expenses.

Methods and experience of the project met approval and support of Nizhniy Novgorod region prosecution, Main Department of the Interior and court system. Procuracy officers stressed special attention to the fact that project results allowed to speed up investigation process and strengthen control on the part of prosecution for prisoners’ criminal cases. Nizhniy Novgorod region prosecution expressed its readiness to support undertakings of the project and implement its methods in day-to-day activities.