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Is there life after release?


Problems confronted by people released after imprisonment include the lack of housing, identification papers and official employment. Last year over 37 thousand people were released, but the human rights organization Donetsk Memorial warns that according to their monitoring, around 20 percent end up back inside due to social problems and not being set up with the above.

The Head of Donetsk Memorial, Oleksandr Bukalov says that for many returning to prison is the only way to survive.

The State ceases to take responsibility in practice as soon as the person leaves the penitentiary institution which is why a very large number of people become homeless or return to prison.

He adds that another problem is that people who have spent 5 years inside lose the inner discipline needed to come to work in the morning, leave in the evening. For that reason some of those who are released don’t go to work, but find some way of earning money which will sooner or later lead them back to prison. A large percentage, however, come back because it’s hard to get themselves set up.

Treatment for tuberculosis ends on leaving prison

Ihor, a former prisoner, explained to Radio Svoboda that it’s hard to survive on the street, especially if you contracted some illness while imprisoned.  If you haven’t got parents, he says, you need to start your life afresh, and if you’ve got some illness, that is the end.  He says there is no social protection, they give you a piece of paper, whereas judges read between the lines.

Shelter with 40 places for several thousand homeless

The Director of the Donetsk Shelter, Mykola Fedoruk says that most of the people in the shelter are former prisoners. It gives people a base from which to begin organizing their lives, getting identification papers, etc. 

It is, however, only for 40 people and around 5 thousand are released each year.

Human rights workers say that those who are released in winter more often end up back inside. In the summer, they can live temporarily on the street and find seasonable jobs.

From a report at

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