Help after prison

Under the Polish legal system, people leaving penitentiary units can benefit from support, which is offered from two sources:


According to the duties imposed on municipalities, one of their tasks is to provide support to people who face difficulties in reintegration after release from prison. Interestingly, the legislator did not specify that this assistance should be provided to persons leaving detention centers, thus narrowing the category of recipients of the activities of Social Assistance Centers.

There are no specific regulations governing how long a person can receive social support after leaving prison. Therefore, the continuation of difficulties in adapting to life outside prison may be the basis for the use of assistance. A key role here is played by social workers, whose job is to support the adaptation process, especially in the vocational and housing aspects.

These people require support in social reintegration and adaptation to new living conditions. Assistance includes material support, counseling, social work and therapy. The main goal of social assistance is to prevent the marginalization of these people, their social isolation and to counteract problems such as alcoholism and drug addiction.
A person serving a sentence of imprisonment in prison is not entitled to social assistance benefits. This right is restored after leaving prison, but requires reapplying for it. The exception is the situation of serving a sentence under the electronic surveillance system, where the sentence is served outside the prison, for example, at home. Temporary detainees have their right to social assistance benefits suspended for the duration of their detention, which is reinstated upon their release.

Catalog of forms of assistance provided by Social Assistance Centers:

Cash benefits:

Non-monetary benefits:

The granting of social assistance benefits follows the following steps:

Submission of an Application for Assistance
The process begins with the submission of an application for aid.
Community Conversation and Assistance Plan
Upon receipt of an application, a community interview is conducted to assess the personal, family, income and asset situation of individuals or families in need of assistance. This interview is usually conducted within 14 working days from the date of notification, and in urgent cases that require immediate intervention, immediately (within 2 working days). The interview can take place at the person's or family's place of residence or at their place of stay. Based on the interview, the social worker analyzes and assesses the situation and makes recommendations for assistance. During the interview, the social worker may ask the person or family to provide a statement of income and assets. Refusal to provide this statement may be the basis for a decision to deny assistance.
Issuance of Administrative Decision
Assistance is provided in the form of an administrative decision. All decisions must be issued in writing, and any decision issued in any other form is considered valid and legally binding.
Implementation of the Decision
Once approved, the aid is implemented. Social assistance cash benefits are usually granted and paid monthly, starting from the month in which the application is submitted with the required documentation. If the benefit entitlement does not cover a full month, the benefit is granted for an incomplete month.
Right to Appeal
Individuals have the right to appeal any decision regarding their social assistance. Appeals can be submitted to the appropriate Local Government Appeal Board in each province.

The Fund for Victims’ Assistance and Post-Penitentiary Aid – abbreviated as the Justice Fund – is a special purpose fund administered by the Minister of Justice, from which assistance is provided to persons incarcerated in penitentiary units, persons released from penitentiaries and detention centers, and their family members. This means that, unlike social assistance, support is provided not only to people released from prisons, but also to detention centers or inmates and families. However, persons serving sentences of imprisonment under the electronic surveillance system, persons sentenced to a fine or restriction of liberty, as well as persons against whom protective measures have been ordered, are excluded from the assistance.

The fund provides assistance from three types of entities:

  1. probation officers operating at each district court – with regard to persons who have left the penitentiary or detention center;
  2. Prison service – in terms of inmates in penitentiary units;
  3. non-governmental organizations that operate post-penitentiary assistance centers throughout Poland – for both released persons and inmates but also their families.

To get help, contact your nearest Post-Penitentiary Assistance Center (link to help facilities tab) or your probation officer!

  1. covering the cost of temporary housing or providing shelter in a center for the homeless;
  2. periodic surcharge on current rent obligations and charges for heat, electricity, gas, water, fuel, collection of solid and liquid waste for a dwelling or single-family house to which an eligible person holds a legal title, in proportion to the number of persons permanently residing in the dwelling or house;
  3. Organizing and financing legal counseling, employment promotion and vocational activation;
  4. Organizing and financing training and courses to improve professional skills and covering the costs of examinations to confirm professional qualifications;
  5. Organizing and financing programs to improve social competence to counter criminogenic factors, especially aggression and violence, including domestic violence, and addiction problems;
  6. purchase of materials, tools, equipment and facilities necessary for the implementation of the programs referred to in point 5, as well as training and courses to improve professional skills, and the performance of unpaid work;
  7. covering costs related to specialized medical treatment or rehabilitation and obtaining certificates of disability, degree of disability or inability to work;
  8. covering the costs of special transportation, in accordance with medical indications, or travel to the place of residence, study, therapy, work, especially unpaid work;
  9. covering the costs associated with obtaining an identity card and other documents necessary for obtaining assistance;
  10. covering the costs of specialized examinations required for eligibility for participation in the programs referred to in point 5, training and courses to improve professional skills, and work performed unpaid;
  11. covering the costs of group accident insurance for persons qualified to participate in training and courses to improve professional skills, programs referred to in point 5, and work performed unpaid;
  12. Promoting and supporting initiatives and projects for effective readaptation of convicts, educational and informational activities, organizing and conducting training, organizing and commissioning scientific research on the situation of convicts;
  13. covering costs associated with the organization and provision of in-kind assistance in the form of:
    1. Food or food vouchers,
    2. clothing, underwear, footwear, cleaning and personal hygiene products or gift certificates,
    3. public transportation tickets,
    4. medicines, dressing and sanitary supplies,
    5. medical devices, including prostheses, orthopedic items and aids,
    6. Teaching and learning aids, books and office supplies,
    7. necessary items of household furnishings or other items of personal use to facilitate social functioning at the place of residence or stay, especially for persons with disabilities,
    8. materials, tools and equipment necessary for participation in vocational training, pursuit of a learned profession or self-employment;
  14. providing cash benefits for the purpose designated by the body or entity providing assistance.
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