Institute reports on situation of Russian prisoners

The Institute for the Problems of Contemporary Society presented a report on the situation for prisoners


Human rights activists have proposed to cut costs on the Federal Penitentiary Service and ensure implementation of the principle of the public utility of the labour of convicts.

Prisoners work 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week, and their average salary is about 4000 roubles per month, according to the report “Slave-like situation of prisoners in Russia”, prepared by the Institute for the Problems of Contemporary Society. The authors highlight that after all deductions, prisoners get about 1-2000 thousand roubles per month. “In such circumstances, prisoners, who do not have support from relatives are forced to break the law and seek earnings from illegal schemes”, the report says.

There are not enough jobs in all the colonies, so it is usually the prisoner who has the opportunity to choose with whom and where they work, or if they work at all, but sometimes prisoner employment can be used as a punishment, the report said. In this case, people classed as “disagreeable” are most likely to be those who are actively pursuing their rights.

Despite the fact that socially useful labour is considered in law as one of the main means of correction for convicts, in its current state the production and economic activities of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) bring more harm to society than benefits, human rights activists say. The report says that the current level of earnings of prisoners means that victims cannot rely on compensation for harm caused to them.

The researchers report that since 2003 the budgetary expenditure in the penal system has increased six times. The annual budget of the FPS is about 270 billion roubles. Human rights activists believe that today it is necessary to reduce the cost of the FPS and increase revenues from its financial and economic activities, to ensure the implementation of the principle of the public utility of the labour of convicts, including in terms of compensation for harm to victims. Reductions in the costs of the FPS, according to the report, can be achieved by reducing the number of convicts.

The Institute for the Problems of Contemporary Society offers to create a ‘workers’ colony where convicts can earn money for themselves to redress damage caused by their crime, as well as benefot the economy of the country. Convicts would be moved to such colonies solely on the basis of their good will, human rights activists say. The rest of the colonies should be stripped of industrial and economic functions, the report said. Human rights activists also suggest converting a significant number of the employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service department into civil servants to increase transparency.

“In particular, to make the system of imposing sanctions and evaluating the feasibility of parole more open and accessible to public monitoring. To make available to the public CCTV footage in cases where it is suspected that the employees have committed illegal actions or exceeded their official powers, as well as in the event of incidents in institutions (such as riots) to identify the true causes of their origin”, the report says .



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