Interview

Introduction of Probation Service Will Decrease Reoffending and Will Unburden PIs

09.07.2014

Photo by justice.am

After the appointment of the new minister what actions are being taken in solving the problem of over-crowding - one of the main issues of Penitentiary Institutions?

Right after being appointed Hovhannes Manukyan, the Minister of Justice, has paid visits to Penitentiary Institutions to assess their work, the operation environment and conditions of detention.

Of course, there are numerous problems at Penitentiary Institutions which have accrued over the years Built in Soviet times, the facilities of  these institutions are now morally and physically worn out. Besides, the buildings were planned and constructed according to Soviet legislation and standards.

As a subject of international right Armenia has many responsibilities in the area of human rights protection, as well as in providing appropriate conditions to the detainees kept in  Penitentiary Institutions and guaranteeing their rights

The problem is rather complicated since keeping the Penitentiary Institutions in compliance with modern standards requires huge investments. 

For the first time in the history of newly independent Armenia the government has initiated the project of constructing a new penitentiary institution using the state budget funds. We are planning to place 400 inmates in “Armavir” PI in 2014, and by the end of 2015 we are intending to have finished the project, by that time we will have had an up-to-date PI in Armavir for 1200 people.

Besides, the 2012-2014 program of RA judicial and legal reforms, approved by the President of RA, is designed to introduce the probation service and expand the list of non custodial sentences.. It will give the chance to solve not only the problem of defending human rights and decreasing reoffending, but also the issue of unburdening the penitentiary institutions.

There are a number of cases when crimes are committed by inmates by using a phone or internet while serving sentence at PI. What measures are taken in that case?

The presence of prohibited objects at penitentiary institutions is one of the most important challenges which the Ministry of Justice and especially the Penitentiary Department are facing.

Examining the parcels delivered to the inmates and convicts is one of the most important functions of the security system operating in penitentiary institutions. Relatives often try to pass to convicts forbidden items hidden in the parcels.

I wouldn’t like to extend the issues you have raised to the whole criminal system. Most of the penitentiary employees are conscientious and properly perform their duties.  Though, in some cases a number of penitentiary service employees were subjected to disciplinary sanctions of “reprimand”, “severe reprimand”, “dismissal” for violating requirements stipulated by the Penitentiary Code.

According to our records, the number of deaths at penitentiary institutions has increased. What do you think is there any proper level of medical treatment and surveillance at penitentiary institutions and what steps are taken to  improve the situation in this repect?

World Health Organization states that penitentiary institutions are not health-favourable places. According to the analysis of WHO, there are criteria on which health conditions of people in custody at penitentiary institutions is poorer than of those in freedom.

Compared to communities some infectious disease health parameters are worse at penitentiary institutions. These are hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Mental health problems are also more widespread at penitentiary institutions.

This is an issue not for Armenia only, but for all European countries as well. This is related both to detention conditions and to the efficiency of healthcare. Health problems of convicts are also related to their own behavior – unhealthy lifestyle, low-level mobility, diseases caused by behavioral factors – addiction to smoking, etc.

A number of problems related to healthcare are now in the solution process.

Read the rest of the interview on source-website “Pastinfo”.

Source www.hra.am