Owing to hierarchization in penitentiaries, only 5% of prisoners enjoy decent conditions, study

The phenomenon of subculture and division of prisoners by castes, according to influence groups, was noticed in most of the national penitentiaries, less in the women’s jail in Rusca. The analysis of the data of a study presented by Promo-LEX Association showed that these castes exist not without the tacit consent of the prison administration and even with their support.

“We speak about an extremely high level of violence in the penitentiary system, especially violence between detainees. It is a punitive form between prisoners for maintaining the system of castes. In the penitentiary system, there is well-defined hierarchization between detainees and, as many prisoners said, only 5% live in advantageous or good conditions. The others are somehow inferior. When analyzing the structure of the problem, it becomes evident that the prisoners do not trust the superintendents. One more problem that influences the failure emerges – violent discouraging of detainees. We speak about the use of force between convicts, including with hard objects,” Dumitru Russu, Promo-LEX jurist, stated in a news conference hosted by IPN.

The data collected as part of the study show that the violent atmosphere among prisoners, created by the rules and influences of the subculture, leaves a significant imprint on the physical and mental health of prisons. The stressful environment often causes anxiety, tensions and the detainees are permanently under pressure and psychological influence. Many of the interviewed prisoners said they have a constant fear of not being subject to violence, do not have any hope for the future and do not trust the penitentiary’s employees owing to their loyalty and relations with informal leaders of the prison subculture, which can affect their personal security while in jail.

This way, the prisoners more often resort to self-mutilation and suicide due to a number of factors, such as emotional dysregulation for different reasons, lack of reaction from the administration to the needs of detainees, including the inability to resist the pressure of the rules set down by the criminal subculture and interpersonal conflicts or with other detainees. Often, self-mutilation in jails is a method of communicating the fury and dissatisfaction or is an instrument for attracting attention to problems that weren’t solved on time. As the interviewed prisoners said, they are not offered psychological assistance or the offered assistance is formal. This phenomenon is indirectly confirmed by the statistical data furnished by the National Administration of Penitentiaries.

As many as 800 cases of self-mutilation were recorded in the system in 2021, up 18% on a year before. The number of suicide attempts in penitentiaries and remand prisons grew by 42%. In 2021, there were recorded six cases of suicide and 31 suicide attempts.

Nadejda Burciu, secretary of state of the Ministry of Justice, said the Republic of Moldova managed to eliminate the use of torture and ill-treatment against prisoners by employees almost fully. The inhuman conditions and violence between prisoners remain the most serious problems. The system was inherited from the Soviet period and the task is to Europeanize it by coordinated intervention from all the levels, including by instituting a more individualized system for serving the sentence. This implies the classification and separation of detainees by the risk level.

The report was produced with financial support from Germany, through the agency of the Embassy of Germany in Chișinău (Deutsche Botschaft Chişinău).

Note: IPN News Agency gives the right of reply to persons who consider they were touched by the news items produced based on statements of the organizers of the given news conference, including by facilitating the organization of another news conference in similar conditions.

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