Every educational institution is expected to have international relations, to participate in international events and/or to have stable professional partners abroad. In the Academy´s history, several different periods in connection with international cooperation can be distinguished.
The first period (2000 – 2005) could be described as “promising prospects”. Opportunities and possible benefits of bilateral cooperation with foreign partners were explored. Communication with the Slovak, the Polish, the Lower-Saxon and the Bavarian training centres developed. A PHARE project on prison staff enhancement brought information about the Dutch and the German prison systems to Czech top and middle management. The Czech system of prison staff education was presented within the projects in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The next period (2006 – 2014) noted gradual retardation of bilateral cooperation. There were several reasons; one of them was the change in international policy manifested for example in suspension of financial grants in some foreign countries. The Academy was visited by foreign professionals but most of them were not particularly interested in staff training; they wanted to learn about other fields such as technologies, economy or security in prisons. One of the exceptions was a visit from the Norwegian training centre KRUS. Bilateral agreements with the Slovak and the Polish partners were signed in 2008 but the meetings were quite rare. Some Academy teachers participated in a few international conferences and seminars but the Academy did not enter EPTA.
The situation changed in 2015. The period that could be called “expansive and expert” lasted till 2019. Traditional partner relations with the training centres in Nitra (Slovakia), Kalisz (Poland) and Wolfenbüttel (Lower Saxony) were restored and exchange study visits focused on specific topics such as self-defence training methods, historical research on penal systems, prison staff training centres management etc.). Documents on cooperation were signed with the prison staff training centres of France, Ukraine, Romania and Latvia. The door to information and experience for the Academy staff and for selected prison staff was opened. The Academy joined EPTA in 2016. Quality international contacts not only with European partners but also with the Correctional Management Institute of Texas made it possible to organize seminars and conferences with foreign participants and lecturers. The Academy Director and other staff members represented the Czech prison staff educational system at a number of conferences in the Czech Republic and abroad. A young institution has grown up and became an internationally recognized academy presenting itself as a model for developing prison systems.
In 2020, the development of international cooperation was dramatically disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Planned activities were either cancelled or put off. Some conferences and seminars were organized on-line. However, communication with the partners has been kept. Partners inform each other about the situation; they exchange experience about innovative methods in teaching; they plan bilateral or international activities and state the topics and goals of professional meetings. New agreements on cooperation will be signed with the Slovak partner in Nitra and with the Polish training centre in Kule. The cooperation with a Lithuanian partner is being discussed. The Academy is entering the third decade of its functioning at Machova Street with a potential to become a prestige player in the international penitentiary field.
Let us wish the Academy good conditions and good luck.