13.12.2002 | Viktor Beloded, Yuzhnoukrainsk

Where there is a will, there is a way


The problem of crime in the Ukrainian society is so acute that not a single Ukrainian politician, including the President, could avoid it in their statements. To tell the truth, these speeches did not affect the solution of the problem, and the growing statistics of the offenses seem to ignore the good intentions of the political leaders. Most mass media also publish the materials on this topic on their columns. The sensational details, striking the imagination of common citizens, raise unhealthy interest and increase the run. These materials seem to be the continuation of TV thrillers and serials on the local background. All this makes the reader to get accustomed to the idea that this is natural and inevitable. The absence of the negative assessments of crime and violence willy-nilly creates a certain charm of crime. "Aspect", an edition of the Donetsk "Memorial", elucidates the questions of crime from some other, constructive facet. The materials of the magazine focus the attention on the consequences –penitentiary system. They also mention the corresponding international legal norms. But really the phenomenon of crime is much more profound and diverse.

The magazine published a very important, in my opinion, confession of V. Levochkin, the head if the Ukrainian penitentiary directorate. In spite of the efforts made for reforming our penitentiary system, "there are no grounds to speak about the decrease of the number of the condemned and incarcerated", he said. His Russian colleagues have similar difficulties. "Solving the problem of the upkeep of the suspected and accused exceeds the economic resources of the state", wrote A. Yatsentiuk, the head of the department of the preliminary prisons and prison of the penitentiary directorate of the Ministry of Justice of Russia. As one can see, it is a serious matter: either crime will exhaust and bankrupt the state or the state will have to apply tremendous efforts to force crime to decrease. The penitentiary system tries to solve their problems both through the construction of new penitentiaries and through diminishing the number of the incarcerated by amnesties, reducing prison terms, introducing alternative punishments. In my opinion all these measures are nothing but drops in the flooding sea of crime. When their terms finish, the same jailbirds return to the society. They know the price of the words about fair court and punishment, they are enriched by the experience and they did not come better. If there even were some positive shift in the statistics, I would rather relate it to the higher qualification of criminals.

In many materials published in the bulletin the problems common to human rights protection and penitentiary personnel are considered, their joint wish to influence the situation, to diminish the growth of crime, which inevitable leads to overcrowding of penitentiaries and, as a result, the violation of elementary rights of convicts. Unfortunately, the problems involved do not cover all the phenomena. In my opinion, the joint efforts concern only the iceberg top, in many respects this resembles the fight with the consequences, not the roots. And the roots of crime in our society are rather deep. The crime cannot be explained through a primitive class approach, the unemployment is not an exhausting cause. The crime cannot be also explained on the social and economic levels, as the authorities try to do. The reason of such explanations is the thesis "existence determines consciousness", the logical continuation of the erroneous opinion about the animal origin of man. This approach generates rather erroneous conclusions, unable to explain, for example, the growth of crime in the well-to-do countries.

I am convinced that the sources of this phenomenon should be sought in the absence of important moral qualities of citizens. The criminal outlook is especially typical to a person bred in the Soviet times. Historically this education began with the glorification of "ex’s" (expropriations) – that is the restoration of justice by transporting the property from the exploiters to the exploited. According to any laws, these actions were always classified as robbery. The methods of governing the country were, for many years, also similar to the relations inside a criminal group based upon the personal devotion, authority, closeness and concealing the ends. The leaders were criminals. It is sufficient to tell that the successful party career of Stalin began with the robbery of a Tiflis bank.

The masses tried to imitate their leaders. Workers and peasants lived for a long time according to the principle: all belongs to kolkhozes, so all belongs to us. And although the kolkhozes disappeared together with socialism, the outlook remained the same. But the main reason of the crime was the 70-year-long propaganda, which led to the mass atheism. Any appeals to lead a moral life are annihilated by the confirmation that all will be finished with the physical death, that is why, people thought, one must take from life as much as possible. After the inevitable crash of the communist ideas our compatriots still cannot understand why on earth should they be honest. The Constitution does not answer this question either, when declaring some international norms. Laws, in their turn, fix the permissible actions of citizens. So, most of the citizens find mitigating reasons to violate laws "quite a bit". Then a little more… Professional criminals have their own justificatory philosophy. As a result the both categories of citizens get behind the bars.

F. Dostoevskiy convincingly showed how any crime begins. At first sinful thoughts appear in one’s head, and then, following the mental rut, an actual crime is committed. A crime is the easiest to prevent on the first stage. Yet, the state remains aloof to the prophylactics of crimes, and later is obliged to pay for the upkeep of convicts. The government ignores the crime propaganda in mass media, distributing video and audio production about violence, pornography, occultism and criminal life at all. Have we a right to address the state as a subject of this process? I think no. The power as it has been formed, is not responsible for permanent policy. There are any groups within state agencies that conduct their permanent policy. It is clear that these efforts are directed for catching fragments of the state budget.

In the course of their activities law-enforcers and penitentiaries have accumulated a lot of difficult problems, for example during investigation.

The independence of courts generates the impunity of corrupted judges. Another topic is the attitude of a convict to the verdict. Even if one assumes that the investigation and the court procedure were irreproachable, all the same the some problems having a decisive role for the criminal remain unknown to the court. That is why the criminal always regards the verdict as unjust.

All these circumstances are in fact solvable through the clean consciousness of investigators, judges, prosecutors, advocates and penitentiary officers. Yet, the state does not set the task of breeding such functionaries. The problem of reforming criminals and the prophylactics of crimes is not also set.

The positive experience of the work of church with the incarcerated is not mentioned even by human rights protectors. The penitentiary administration does not want the additional problems, they have enough as it is. In order to cooperate with church and NGOs the penitentiary administration needs some organizational efforts and good will to act for the sake of the entire society. This is not the only reason, but this difficulty and many others may be overcome if there is a will. So the problem is not in the absence of the way out, but in the unwillingness to search it. We have to make a choice: either to have what we have or to follow the high Biblical standard, when God interferes. 

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