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15.12.2003 | Nikolay Timofeev, Kirovograd

Behind the bars. The note about the conditions in the Ukrainian penitentiaries, in particular, the epidemic situation.

   

A common citizen knows about the real conditions in our penitentiary system only by hearsay. And those, who know that from their own experience, recollect the penitentiaries as a nightmare. The state has no money for the upkeep of the incarcerated. One of the central editions wrote that the budget envisaged 35 kopecks (0.07 USD) per day for the upkeep of one convict. So, it is senseless to say about the normal nourishment and provision with medical drugs. At the same time, TB and AIDS rage in penitentiary establishments. Such situation can develop into the catastrophe on a national scale, since prisons are overcrowded and the diseases are contagious. After the release the former prisoners get to the society, so everyone takes chances to catch TB.

These problems exist and are not solved during many years. Yet, lately the third sector became more active. So, the hope appeared, since the people, who work there (mainly volunteers) do their best to change our world for the better. For example, in 2001 the public organization “Svoboda” was created. The purpose of the organization is to help the former incarcerated in the social rehabilitation, and to return them to the normal life of honest citizens. Moreover, the organization tries to find jobs for the former convicts, since the level of unemployment in the Kirovograd oblast is very high, and nobody would employ voluntarily a person with a criminal record. Yet, when a former prisoner understands that nobody needs him, he may commit a crime again. Valentin Lukin, the head of the board of “Svoboda” (by the way, he is also a honorable president of the Kirovograd oblast federation of heavy athletics), says that the organization renders the regular aid to the oblast penitentiary department with food and medical drugs.

“We want to persuade the public”, Valentin Lukin continues, “that the people, who violated the law remain people. And the society may not spurn them, since in that way the society indirectly incites them to new crimes.

Unfortunately, some people do not understand the essence of the problem. Various diseases rage in penitentiary establishments because of bad nourishment and medical care, and the released spread these diseases. That is why the number of the people infected with TB, AIDS and hepatitis has increased recently. We must realize that this is our common problem, and then we will be able to solve it”.

“Vedomosti-plus” No. 33, 15 August 03

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