22.05.2000 | A.Volin

As to punishment, Ukraine looks crueler than her neighbors


A person, which never dealt with convicts, will have difficulties to fancy how immense is the Ukrainian penitentiary system. Today we have 183 penitentiary establishments: 128 reforming-labor colonies, 11 reformatory-labor colonies, 32 preliminary prisons, 12 curing-labor hospitals and 5 special TB hospitals. In these places 226 thousand people are kept. In order to keep order among criminals they are guarded by about 50 thousand guards and wardens. At the apex of this pyramid is situated the recently created State Department in penitentiary system.

The worse our life becomes, the larger number of criminals appear. This is a banal truth confirmed many times in many places, and Ukraine makes no exceptions. Social studies confirm: when unemployment grows by 1% the total criminality grows by 6%, and among unemployed youth as much as by 11%.

While in 1988 about 30 thousand appeared behind the bars, then in the last, 1998, the harvest was 86437 (44.7% of them appeared to be recidivists). So, 10 years trebled the number of convicts. Certainly, the argument ‘militia works three times better’ is untrue. The Ukrainian courts doggedly reject to apply alternative punishments. In this respect Ukraine looks more cruel than our neighbors. This year 37.2% of all convicted got to penitentiaries. Russia and Moldova sent behind the bars 32.7% and 20.8%, respectively. In the countries of the Western Europe the average indicator is 7%. Another sad conclusion follows from these figures. About two thirds of people, who inhabited the preliminary prisons, appeared non-guilty: after several months of the incarceration they are released since their guilt has not been proved.

50 thousand are given prison terms less than 3 years — in most countries people are not imprisoned for such terms at all. Perhaps, Ukraine is rich enough to afford improving qualification of criminals in prison cells.

The following table gives the dynamics of such short-term incarcerations.

The number of the incarcerated for the term up to 3 years in Ukraine

1992  25446

1993  30524

1994  37122

1995  39100

1996 45971

1997  49145

1998  51061

Note: The articles of the Penal Code of Ukraine, according to which 70% were convicted, permit judges to apply conditional punishment except incarceration.

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