Latvian prison system - the prospects for future development


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Presentation by I.Kronberga, PROVIDUS reseracher, in Criminology Conference on Crime and Punishment in the Baltic Region, which was held from October 21-23, 2011 in Vilnius.
The conference was organised by the Lithuanian Society of Criminology together with the University of Vilnius, Institute of Law and the Centre Crime Prevention in Lithuania.

PROVIDUS pētnieces I.Kronbergas prezentācija Baltijas kriminologu konferencē, kas norisinājās 2010.gada 21.-23.okotbrī Viļņā.
Konferenci organizēja Lietuvas kriminologu sabiedrība kopā ar Viļņas Universitāti, Tiesību institūtu un Lietuvas Noziegumu prevencijas centru.

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Latvian prison system - the prospects for future development

  2. 2. Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS: Ilona Kronberga ―One of the most amazing things about prisons is that they ‗work‘ at all….‖ Cressey, D. (ed.) (1961). The Prison: Studies in Institutional Organization. NY: Holt, Rinehart, Winston (p.2).
  3. 3. Brief background information on prisons in Latvia
  4. 4. Today there are 11 prisons and one correctional institution for juveniles in Latvia Total number of inmates is ~6900 but in the beginning of this year was 7055
  5. 5. Location of inmates in prisons • Correctional institution for juveniles - 1,4 % • Open prisons - 3,0 % • Semi-closed prisons - 13,3 % • Closed prisons - 54,1 % • Investigative prisons - 28,2 %
  6. 6. Released in 2009 year Total number - 2511 including: – after the end of the sentence period – 1892 – before the end of the sentence period – 600 – released owing to hard illness - 11 – released owing to amnesty - 8
  7. 7. The challenges we face in our prison system • Education and employment of inmates; • Prison infrastructure, including new facilities; • Minors and young people in prisons; • Necessity for a new legal framework for enforcement of sentences - new Sentence Enforcement Law; • Seriously evaluated reform of prison personnel.
  8. 8. From a legal point of view the prison environment is very sensitive: ―…every instance of brutality in prisons, every casual racist joke and demeaning remark, every ignored petition, every unwarranted bureaucratic delay, every inedible meal, every arbitrary decision to segregate or transfer without giving clear and unfounded reasons, every petty miscarriage of justice, every futile and inactive period of time — is delegitimating‖ Sparks, R. and Bottoms, A.E. (1995). ‘Legitimacy and Order in Prisons’, The British Journal of Sociology, 46, 1, 45-62 (p.60).
  9. 9. We have to reform education and employment systems for inmates The educational process in prisons is organized in line with ―Education Policy Guidelines for Inmates 2006 – 2012‖ 68,3% of all inmates are aged 22 - 40
  10. 10. reform education and employment systems for inmates Among convicted persons there are many people who have a low level of general education. For example - lower than 23% of convicts do not have any elementary education.
  11. 11. Employment of inmates is one of the most intricate tasks • 1 141 inmates were employed in 2009. 632 of them have worked in the prisons crew. 509 working places for convicts were set up by businessmen. The average employment rate during the year was 23% of all working-aged. • 1379 inmates were employed in 2008. 711 of them have worked in the prisons crew. 671 working places for convicts were set up by businessmen. The average employment rate during the year was 24% of all working-aged.
  12. 12. Inmates employment... In 2008 the Ministry of Justice drafted the concept paper to establish a new employment system for inmates.
  13. 13. Ministry of Justice is going to establish new regulatory approaches for: • legal status of inmates, stating that prisoners who are employed are a special category of employed persons; • legal status of employers according to the type of prisons in which they work; • determination of differences for employment of the convicted persons, forms and framework of the cooperation between merchants and prisons administration;
  14. 14. Ministry of Justice is going to establish new regulatory approaches for: • wages for inmates; • forms of inmates employment, to ensure for them the acquisition of vocation which helps in the job market after release from prison; • social guarantee for the employed prisoners, including the release from prison etc.
  15. 15. ...some thoughts... • Penal reformers support the idea that prison has not always been the answer, but ministers in private often agreed, that it seems nothing will ever change. • Nowadays, everything happens in prisons, except what there should be. • I love the Lord because He loves our prisons indeed, because otherwise they would not exist.
  16. 16. We should significantly improve prison infrastructure, including new premises (cells) for inmates • On 20.03.2007 in Cabinet of Ministers considered the informative report of Ministry of Justice about the shortcomings and their whys and wherefores in prisons, in order to plan the work and to take the possible decisions to eliminate the shortages. • On 03.04.2008 a conception of development of prison infrastructure was announced in the Meeting of the State Secretaries. • The main goal of the concept is to draft a new prison system where it is possible to provide effective sentence enforcement as well as to offer better solutions of attracting finances for building of new prison and in that way providing electivity of sentence enforcement and increasing public safety of dangers when the system of prisons is unsafe.
  17. 17. To improve prison infrastructure at the moment Ministry of Justice has again set up a new version of prison infrastructure concept which provides for: • drafting a prison system based on new principles; • only one new prison construction (DBO-project) for 1000 inmates; • project investments: ~ 70 million lats in 30 years period including risk costs, infrastructure operating costs and costs of reconstruction in this period. The Ministry of Justice intends to submit this project to the government in these days.
  18. 18. We should keep out of prison minors and young people as long as possible, but if they are in prison, it is a priority target group Latvia: Juveniles (percentage of prison population) 2.1% Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population) 314 based on an estimated national population of 2.25 million at beginning of 2010 (from Eurostat figures) Estonia: Juveniles = 1.0% Finland: = 0.1% Russia: = 0.9% Romania: = 1.7% Belarus: = 1,2% Poland: = 0,6% Ukraine: = 1,0%
  19. 19. Necessity for a new legal framework for enforcement of sentences • entered into force 01.04.1971 • was established 23.12.1970
  20. 20. The personnel reform ―While the prison system was transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice in 2000, in 2007 the prison system remains significantly militarised with soviet style military management. Moreover, since 2006 the Prison Service ceased to be part of civil service. Directors of the 15 prisons, deputies and heads of service are officers, as about third of staff and ranks remain the same as with the police and border guards.‖[1] [1] Latvia, Shadow Report to the UN Committee against Torture; October 2007; Latvian Centre for Human Rights (page 14).
  21. 21. We should carry out seriously a well- considered personnel reform, including establishment of the education system for prison officials We have often faced situations when we can say... ..a prison environment provides considerable opportunity for the capricious and arbitrary exercise of power, and for authorities to act based on personal prejudice and implicit bias However, if people realize their mission... ...power - is an obligation, but freedom – responsibility, and so it has always been
  22. 22. We will make the changes together! Thank you! Ilona Kronberga, Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS