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Conditions of detention: improvement trends

Conditions of detention: improvement trends

Order of the Ministry of Justice of Russia dated 4 July 2022 y. № 110 approved three rules of internal order of places of detention - pre-trial detention centers, correctional institutions and correctional centers of the penitentiary system (further - Rules), which have entered into force 17 July. The rules were adopted as part of the implementation of the Concept for the development of the penitentiary system of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030 Mr., approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated 29 April 2021 y. No. 1138 (further - Concept), and largely follow its humanistic paradigm.

Rules regulate important innovations, aimed at improving the quality of life of suspects, accused and convicted, held in penitentiaries. A normative legal act brings together all the provisions on penitentiary institutions, introduces separate systematized chapters, dedicated to the rights of suspects and accused. Particular attention is paid to certain categories of prisoners - pregnant women, women with children, disabled people.

The rules provide for significant improvements in the living conditions of prisoners, among which it is worth noting:

  • the possibility of daily showering for pregnant women, women with children and disabled people of I and II groups (previously specified categories of citizens had the opportunity to take a shower no more than twice a week);
  • eight hours of uninterrupted sleep;
  • the ability to be in the daytime on a made bed;
  • making postal and bank money transfers by prisoners;
  • by decision of the administration, searches will be carried out without undressing with the use of special technical means, using screens;
  • the opportunity to apply to the administration with an application for the purchase of medicines; store them and take them according to the appointed schedule;
  • the opportunity to get acquainted with their own medical records, receive copies and extracts;
  • opportunity to receive paid medical and legal services, as well as e-books on a reimbursable basis, etc.;
  • expansion of the list of items, permitted for storage in correctional institutions (hair clippers, plastic food storage containers, thermal underwear, contact lenses, electric kettles).

Separately, it is worth noting the installation of information terminals with a user identification system in penitentiary institutions provided for by the Rules, through which suspects (accused) can make suggestions, statements and complaints. Although the installation of such terminals, - like TVs, shower cabins and ventilation in cells, – is not mandatory and will be carried out subject to technical feasibility, introduction of terminals, in my opinion, will help to significantly improve the organization of life of convicts, diversify it.

The functionality of information terminals provides for the possibility of obtaining legal information (including familiarization with the Rules), background information about the activities of the pre-trial detention center, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia and its territorial bodies, courts, public authorities, prosecutor's office, medical organizations of the penitentiary system, as well as information about individuals and legal entities, providing free legal aid under the Free Legal Aid Act. Besides, through the terminal you can file complaints and applications, appeals to the medical organization of the penitentiary system (at the same time, medical care in an urgent or emergency form will be provided without prior appointment and immediately), order items, things and products in the store (including online store) in pre-trial detention, etc..

The rules also provide for the possibility of the Federal Penitentiary Service to assist adult prisoners in sports - for them, such activities will become an obligatory part of the daily routine.

In general, the new regulation describes in more detail the rights and obligations of prisoners and the procedural aspects of their implementation.. So, a column for affixing a signature to personally convicted persons has been added to the register of reception of those sentenced to imprisonment. The specified guarantees comply with international standards, which highlights their importance..

The relevance of the introduction of the new Rules is due, in particular, topics, that many orders on the internal rules of penitentiary institutions were adopted more 10 years ago and over time have lost relevance. For example, the new Rules establish a ban on the purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles by those sentenced to imprisonment.

In fact, the adoption of the Rules announces a new vector for the development of penitentiary institutions, and not only reinforces the positive aspects of the current state of affairs.

However, some experts assessed a number of provisions of the Rules critically., and to some extent the remarks seem justified. So, inaccurate, insufficiently specific wording, leaving the possibility to limit the rights of suspects, accused and convicted, held in penitentiaries. For iexample, the procedure for convicts to receive self-education has not been fully defined, access to specific educational literature, as well as the use by named persons of educational programs on the Internet, while access to education remains one of the most important mechanisms for the actual re-socialization of this category of citizens.

Another block of comments is related to the condition "if there is a technical possibility". The legal community reasonably saw in it a potential risk of non-compliance by the Federal Penitentiary Service of the new material and living conditions of prisoners, which will be justified by the "lack of opportunity". Actually, at the moment it is impossible to accurately determine the timing of the implementation of certain innovations, in connection with which some norms of the Rules, I suppose, risk remaining only "on paper". At the same time it is obvious, that such a rapid entry into force of the new Rules would not have been possible without the mandatory introduction of these conditions, since the huge structure of the Federal Penitentiary Service is unlikely to be able to 10 days to purchase and install the necessary equipment, which in general should not interfere with the operation of other important innovations.

The norm on the privacy of bathrooms was also met with an ambiguous assessment.. In particular, the presence of any "blind spots" in the penitentiary may pose risks for prisoners, and the extension, for example, camera standards, the new Rules do not imply.

In law enforcement practice, two problem areas have been identified: Overcrowding in the pre-trial detention center and lack of registration of documents, entering the administration of penitentiary institutions. It is proposed to deal with the second problem with the help of information terminals, the functioning and access to which are not yet regulated. At the same time, a significant amount of violations is associated with the technical deterioration of the buildings of pre-trial detention centers and their significant overcrowding., including due to the actions of the investigating authorities, choosing appropriate preventive measures, often in relation to persons, not posing a threat to the lives of others. As an illustration of overcrowding in places of deprivation of liberty, one can cite data from the Cassation Ruling of the Judicial Collegium for Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated 16 March 2022 y. No. 5-KAD21-56-K2: "S dd. mm. yyyy to dd. mm. yyyy in cell no. 628 area 39,2 sq. m, having 14 sleeping places, contained from 21 to 51 human". In such conditions, all the basic rights of convicts are inevitably violated., including household needs.

Adoption and – most importantly – proper implementation of the new Rules, aimed at improving the conditions of suspects, accused and convicted, should become a reflection of the principles of humanism. The implementation of the principles and objectives of the Concept requires a huge number of changes to the legislative framework. In the rules in question, aimed at modernizing the domestic correctional system, many of these problems have already been solved.

At the same time, it is difficult to achieve a significant improvement in the conditions of stay of prisoners in penitentiary institutions without a reform of the investigation in relation to categories of citizens., in relation to which deprivation of liberty as a measure of restraint has no rational justification.


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