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Penitentiary system of Ukraine is reforming

I. Shtanko, the head of the State penitentiary Department of Ukraine
The State penitentiary Department of Ukraine was created by President’s decree of 22 April 1998 on the base of the Main penitentiary Directorate of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine. Since 12 March 1999 it functions as a autonomous central agency of the executive power, which realizes the united penitentiary policy of the state.

By 1 January 2001 in 222,3 thousand people were kept in 180 establishments of the Department, in particular, 171 thousand in 128 correcting colonies and 3.3 thousand of minors in 11 reformatory colonies. 46.2 thousand were kept in 32 preliminary prisons waiting for their trials, 1.8 thousand – in 8 alcoholism treatment colonies. Besides, the Department is in charge of punishments not connected with incarceration, 136.4 thousand people.

During 2000 the penitentiary system accepted 75 thousand recidivists, 64 thousand prisoners were released.

The number of the personnel of the Department is 48.1 thousand.

The preparation of the personnel for the Department establishments is done in Chernigiv juridical school and Dneprodzerzinsk school for basic training of personnel. Besides, in 2001 another school in Belaya Tserkov is planned to be opened.

The goal of a punishment is not only a penalty for the committed crime, but also the prevention of further crimes, shaping of such attitude of the punished, which will give them the opportunity to return to normal social life.

The achievement of this goal is impossible without an active support of the public. This is one of the main principles of our penitentiary policy, which is stipulated by Article 9 of the reforming Code of Ukraine. The thesis of the public participation in reforming the punished is certainly not new. In the previous years the labor collectives often established patronage of reforming colonies, observing commissions carried out the public control over the work of the colonies. But the time passes and the past forms do not always answer the present day demands.

Some reforms in the punishment policy and democratic processes in the penitentiary system made the punitive establishments more open for public.

The activities of human rights protection organizations are a qualitatively new phenomenon in the process of the public control. Mutual relations between the penitentiary administration and human rights protection organizations have already passed the phase of protests and total criticism to the constructive cooperation.

The Penitentiary Department works hand by hand with the International Foundation ‘Vidrodjennia’ in the fulfillment of the program ‘In encouraging the reform of the penitentiary system in Ukraine’. The program supports the realization of public initiatives directed at the process of reforming the penitentiary system in Ukraine towards its humanization, concordance with international standards, greater transparence, increasing the professional level of the system personnel. The Department, the Foundation and the institute ‘Open Society’ (Budapest) signed a joint Memorandum, which determines mutual efforts directed at positive changes in the Department activities and the development of the Department cooperation with NGOs.

In 2000 the Foundation organized a competition of projects, in which 36 NGOs participated. 14 projects were supported by the decision of the state department. 10 of them are realized directly in penitentiary establishments of the Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Poltava, Kharkov, Kherson and Chernigiv oblasts. Owing to the help of the International Foundation ‘Vidrodjennia’ fruitful cooperation of penitentiary agencies and establishments with public organizations has developed.

The religious outlook is an important factor in the successful moral reforming of convicts. That is why the conditions for participation of church servants are created in penitentiary establishments. During recent years rooms or even chapels for praying were open in all penitentiaries. Representatives of more than 25 international organizations work now with convicts. Churches existing in Ukraine grant noticeable assistance in organizing the prayer rooms. It can be said that the new type of social and legal relations has been formed in this sphere. This is expressed in the realization of convicts’ rights for freedom of religious outlook. The subjects of these relations are convicts, religious organization and administration of the penitentiary organs.

In the light of modern tendencies to use modern social technologies the process of the adaptation to the life at large becomes more and actual. Here the fruitful cooperation with employment centers and law-enforcing organs becomes paramount. The cooperation of the Department and the Ukrainian State Center of social services for youth is also very important for the reforming and social adaptation. The work was carried out firstly with minor convict, since now the Department concluded an agreement with the Center about realizing the Program of social maintenance of the youths, who do their terms or are expected to be released soon.

In a number of regions (in Kharkov, Donetsk, Zhytomir, Lugansk, Chernigiv, the Lviv oblast and the Crimea) the centers and funds for social adaptation are created with the assistance of the public. However, this is not a complete self-sufficient system. To construct such a system is necessary to unite the efforts of the public and state organs. State guardianship is a future task.

An essential contribution to the reforming of the penitentiary system we reckon the objective information of wide public about the system’s functioning and problems. We hope that the publication of our Bulletin will promote such objective informing.
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