Penitentiary System Employees Universal Human Values Formation


The article is devoted to the analysis of the process of penitentiary system employees universal values formation in the context of changes in the strategy of the national penal policy in the direction of humanization the execution of sentences and democratizing the activities of correctional institutions. The study reveals the main approaches to the interpretation of the concept of “value”, the essence of the process of universal values formation in a multicultural and multinational Russian society, and provides classifications of values based on various criteria. The article considers the nature of universal values, their significance for uniting the common people in times of various social cataclysms and determining the ways of further development of society. It is emphasized that the universal humanistic values of the new time (life, person, freedom) are fundamental for designing the educational component of the convicts’ correction process. The values that are relevant for representatives of the professional community of the penitentiary system employees are formulated. The authors describe the features of the universal values formation among the penitentiary system employees; identify factors that contribute to the introduction of the penitentiary system university cadets to the universal values. The article substantiates the influence of a practice-oriented approach to training on the formation of universal values of prison staff and examines the means of practice-oriented training that are used to form universal values among university cadets.

Keywords: Universal human values, penitentiary system, practice-oriented learning, the university, the penitentiary system staff


The formation of a system of human values that unites the subject’s ideas about the significance of objects and phenomena of the surrounding world for him, and is a reference point for his individual and professional development, is of great interest to modern researchers. It is values that find their expression in the principles, norms, and rules of people behavior in society that form a person's consciousness, determine his life goals, and influence success in professional activities.

The profession of a prison officer is associated with a high moral responsibility to society and places high demands on the level of development of the value sphere of his personality (Grunin, 2016). First of all, this is due to the change in the strategy of the national penal enforcement policy in the direction of humanizing the execution of sentences and democratizing the activities of correctional institutions, which led to a change in the content of the activities of penitentiary employees, and with it the evolution of their social norms and values.

Firstly, the need for social rehabilitation influence on convicts presupposes the formation of humanistic ideals among prison staff, their readiness to carry out their professional activities on the basis of universal values, respectful interpersonal interaction, cooperation and an individual approach to each convict (Vasil'yeva, 2018).

Secondly, the provision of social rehabilitation influence requires staff of the penitentiary system to establish direct personal contacts with persons serving sentences in places of deprivation of liberty. Daily interaction with the criminal community members is fraught for correctional officers with the risk of “criminal infection”, distortion of social and professional norms and values. In practice, this can lead to various types of professional destructions, including disciplinary violations and illegal behavior (Ezhova, 2018; Samoylik, 2019).

The study of the mechanisms of value orientations formation in the penitentiary system employees will allow, on the one hand, to purposefully form their attitude to the priority of universal values (life, freedom, truth, goodness, justice), on the other hand, it will contribute to the development of approaches to preventing the destructive impact on the personality of the penitentiary system employee of the conditions of his professional activity. These provisions served as the basis for the study of the process of penitentiary system employees value orientations formation in the context of practice-oriented learning in higher education.

Problem Statement

The great importance of the human value sphere in the socio-cultural evolution of society is emphasized by many modern researchers (Bilan et al., 2019; Brennan & Southwood, 2010; Ezhova & Semikina, 2020; Kononova et al., 2019). Values are formed in the process of understanding the subject’s life experience, evaluating the phenomena of the surrounding world and making life choices on this basis. Thus, they determine the orientation of the individual and its priorities, and regulate human behavior and activity (Featherstone, 2011). At the same time, the humanities lack unity in understanding the essence of values and a generally accepted interpretation of the concept of “value” (Horley, 2012). It is advisable to distinguish three main approaches to its definition.

Firstly, a value is understood as a real object that has useful properties for a person and therefore has a functional value for him. Secondly, value is interpreted as an ideal object (meaning, image) that has a positive meaning for a person or expresses his positive attitude to reality. Thirdly, value is considered as the absolute significance of something for a person (positive or negative), and the lower the degree of conditionality, the higher the level of value. This approach to the definition of the category under study allows us to identify the essential properties of the phenomenon and avoid extremes in the formulations.

In all these approaches, the key role is played by the properties of an object that have a certain significance and usefulness for a person, reflecting the uniqueness and uniqueness of their needs and interests. Thus, values are the product of a person’s conscious creative activity in the sphere of relations between him as an active subject and objects of natural and social reality. As a constituent element of value orientations, they are part of the personality structure and are one of the sources of motivation for human behavior.

Let us turn to the nature of universal values. As a rule, researchers associate the essential meaning of this phenomenon with the need to find guidelines for uniting the broad masses of people during periods of various social upheavals and cataclysms characterized by the loss of traditional foundations of society, the erosion of cultural space, and the discrediting of the dominant ideology (Shazheva et al., 2019). Thus, in times of instability, universal values act as a consolidating element and determine the ways of further existence of society.

Universal values are not identical to traditional values, are not associated with a specific historical period or features of ethnic communities, and their content can change over time. Nevertheless, in the form of certain ideal positions (kinship, truth, goodness, beauty), they are fixed and reproduced in the life of all social groups, acquiring unique features in each socio-cultural tradition (Goodwin et al., 2020). In the modern European space, there is an increasing movement towards the humanization of social processes, bringing to the fore the value of man and life in all its manifestations (Fischer, 2012).

The existence of universal values is a natural consequence of real social practice, experienced by a separate subject as a set of norms, rules, and ideals that form the individual consciousness of an individual and society as a whole, and can serve as a basis for dialogue between representatives of various social cultures and communities (Fischer & Poortinga, 2012).

Turning directly to the problem of orientation of the individual of the penitentiary system employee to universal values, we rely on the fact that his professional activity includes features of pedagogical interaction with persons serving sentences in places of deprivation of liberty (Vasil'yeva, 2018). At the same time, the universal humanistic values of the new time (life, man, freedom) are fundamental for designing the educational component of the process of correction of convicts.

The analysis of existing approaches to understanding the essence of universal values and the requirements of modern society to the moral and ethical foundations of official activity and professional behavior of prison staff allows us to formulate the following humanistic values that are relevant for representatives of this professional community.

Firstly, it is an understanding of their profession as fulfilling an important mission for society – the correction of persons sentenced to imprisonment, and a sense of vocation to work on the re-socialization of prisoners. Secondly, it is aimed at a comprehensive study of the personality of the convicted person, creating conditions for their return to the legal field after their release from penitentiary institutions. Thirdly, it is humanism, which proclaims a valuable attitude to the life of all members of the penitentiary society, care for their health and safety. Fourthly, there are interaction with colleagues and prisoners based on empathy, dialogue, and cooperation as factors that contribute to improving the effectiveness of interpersonal communication. Fifthly, it is a reflexive attitude to yourself and your professional activities, rethinking your professional position in the context of processes taking place in society.

In the process of practice-oriented learning, these universal values are internalized in the minds of students. In the form of individual value orientations, they form the core of the humanistic orientation of the individual specialist of the penitentiary system.

Research Questions

  • What is the essence of the process of universal values formation in a multicultural and multinational Russian society?
  • What are the features of universal values formation among the penitentiary system employees?
  • What factors contribute to familiarizing penal system university students to the universal values?
  • How does a practice-oriented approach to learning affect the universal values formation of penal system university students?
  • What means of practice-oriented learning should be used for the universal values formation of the penitentiary system employees?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to analyze the process of universal values formation among prison system employees, identify factors that contribute to introducing the penal system higher education institution students to universal values, and the main means of implementing this process in practice-oriented learning.

Research Methods

In accordance with the intended purpose of the study, we have identified the following methods for studying the process of forming universal values among prison staff:

  • theoretical analysis of philosophical, psychological, pedagogical, and methodological literature on the problem under study;
  • generalization of best practices in the universal values formation among the penitentiary system employees in the context of practice-oriented learning in higher education;
  • pedagogical observation, interviewing, group and individual conversations with employees of the penitentiary system in order to identify the respondents’ attitude to the research problem.


The universal values formation in a person occurs in the process of socialization: first, the family, and then other social institutions (kindergarten, school, etc.) introduce the child to the norms and rules governing his behavior in various spheres of public life. At the same time, for this process, it is important not only to acquaint the child with the value of such concepts as life, work, creativity, freedom, love, justice, responsibility, honor, friendship, happiness, dignity, but also to form their own attitude to them. It is this attitude that makes it possible for a person to regulate their behavior based on universal values.

The problem of universal values formation in a child in modern society is that the attitude (assessment) and its adequacy directly depend on the degree of depth of knowledge of the phenomenon. In our age of informatization, when live communication is often replaced by communication in the information space using various gadgets, the temptation of the learning process is lost, and knowledge becomes schematic and impersonal.

A child is born as an “opportunity” to become a member of society, guided in its choice not by animal, but by moral laws. Since the process of “humanization” the child falls out of the state of “man as a knowledge holder”, this leads to the fact that the child gives priority to material values (the desire to acquire) and social (status, power, position), and the highest values, due to the lack of direct benefits from them, lose their significance for the younger generation.

The possibility of humanizing the process of sentences execution is determined, first of all, by the presence of moral qualities in the penitentiary system employees, so when preparing them, the emphasis is on the formation of moral values. It is not only the ability of employees to resist the negative impact of the criminal subculture, the manipulative influence of convicts and the temptation to get their own benefit by violating the law, but also their official discipline that depends on their moral attitudes. It should be noted that the destructive behavior of employees is based on changes in their value-motivational sphere (Ezhova, 2018).

Three categories of persons can become employees of the penitentiary system in the Russian Federation: citizens who meet the qualification requirements necessary for performing official duties in accordance with their position, are recognized by military medical expertise as fit for service and have passed initial training, including physical, fire and special training; on the basis of enter an educational institution of the Federal penitentiary service; citizens enrolled as cadets in institutions of higher education of the penitentiary system; citizens transferred from other law enforcement agencies. In all cases, the personal qualities of candidates are also studied, while close attention is paid to the presence of their moral qualities.

The degree of universal values formation among candidates is very different, and the opportunity to pay more attention to this issue is only in educational institutions of higher education of the penal system, where cadets serve for 4 years (bachelor’s level) or 5 years (specialty level).

Along with professional and personal self-determination, the formation of a worldview also belongs to the growth of youth. The crisis of 17 years is characterized by a person's search for their place in life and is a transitional stage, from adolescence to adolescence. This process is individual in nature, and educational and professional activities are the leading type of activity for this age period. In this regard, the educational impact on the part of the teaching staff and course officers is the most effective.

Cadets are located around the clock at the institute (live in the barracks), so the university has the opportunity to use various forms of educational work that allow students to form an idea of the importance of their future profession for the safety of society. It is no accident that one of the goals of educating young employees is to form their spiritual and moral values, such as a sense of patriotism, loyalty to the oath, and service to the motherland.

The practice-oriented approach to learning is of a continuous formative nature and assumes that students will achieve educational results through the use of practice-oriented learning technologies and elements of integration into the real professional environment.

The approach involves inter-departmental interaction of teachers in order to coordinate efforts to train specialists who have the necessary level of professional and psychological training that ensures their successful adaptation to official activities, as well as a set of moral qualities of the individual that allow them to make moral choices in difficult situations, based on moral values. In addition, practice-oriented training of young employees contributes to their desire for self-development and knowledge of the world around them, which is a necessary condition for the formation of their universal values.

The peculiarity of the process of forming moral values is that the emphasis is not on the teacher's explanation, but on the subject's understanding of the essence of reality phenomena through interaction with another person. In other words, values are formed only through dialogue, so the example of officers with whom cadets communicate and carry out joint activities is of particular importance. Students adopt and fix as a pattern of behavior that causes them a strong positive emotional response, so a positive psychological climate in the team of employees is an important condition for the formation of moral values among cadets.

The practice-oriented approach to learning focuses on the application of students’ theoretical knowledge in various practical situations, each of which necessarily contains a moral aspect, since decision - making in practice requires not only knowledge of the regulatory framework, but also ethical requirements for the activities of employees of the penal system.

The main means of educating students of moral qualities is the analysis and assessment of human behavior in various life situations from the point of view of moral norms, which is usually carried out in the form of an ethical conversation. With a practice-oriented approach to training, it is advisable to use trainings, debates, role-playing and business games, and discussions. These forms of organization of the educational process involve free communication between cadets and teachers, which contributes to the effective formation of universal values among students. Various events of a patriotic, informational, and moral nature, as well as volunteer activities, are also considered as means of forming students ' moral values (Piyukova, 2019).

The formation of moral values among cadets is facilitated by the involvement in the educational process of employees of institutions and bodies of the criminal executive system who have extensive life experience and are a moral example of performing their official duty. Various joint activities with practical employees of the penitentiary system (assistance to correctional institutions of the territorial authority, exercises, interaction with veterans’ organizations, and practice in penitentiary institutions), cooperation with public and religious organizations also help to form the moral ideal of official activity.

Of great importance for the universal values formation among cadets are the traditions existing in each penitentiary institution, which not only allow for the continuity of generations, but also contribute to the preservation and multiplication of moral values of employees of the penitentiary system.


Thus, the formation of universal human values in the penitentiary system employee is influenced by both external conditions (social environment, living conditions, cultural traditions) and the characteristics of the individual (internal conditions), which include his motivational, value-semantic spheres and personality characteristics (character and abilities).

A practice-oriented approach to learning helps cadets understand the mission of their chosen profession, provides a link between learning and life, and contributes to the development of their intellectual and moral culture. The analysis of practical situations of official activity in accordance with the principles and norms of professional ethics and official etiquette contributes to the young employees of the penitentiary system moral foundations formation of their behavior in the service and in everyday life. The means of formation students’ moral values are the analysis and assessment of practical situations from the position of moral norms, ethical conversations, various events of a patriotic, informational, propaganda and moral nature, volunteer activities.

The involvement of experienced practitioners in the penitentiary system in learning contributes to the formation of a moral ideal among students, the transfer of life experience and familiarization with the traditions of the professional community. Conducting interdisciplinary classes and using interactive forms of training in the learning process contributes to the formation of cadets’ professional competencies and universal values.


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15 July 2021

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Globalization, digital education, leadership, challenges of the time, оn-line pedagogy, universal and national values

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Votinov, A., Еzhova, O., & Piyukova, S. (2021). Penitentiary System Employees Universal Human Values Formation. In A. G. Shirin, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, E. Y. Ignateva, & N. A. Shaydorova (Eds.), Education in a Changing World: Global Challenges and National Priorities, vol 114. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 405-412). European Publisher.