4,000 Inmates Died in Russian Prisons in 2009

Due to the reform of the Russian penitentiary system, for the first time in years the number of prisoners in jails and prisons has reduced. At the same time courts and investigative departments are very slow in “getting rid of their habit to imprison nearly all suspects,” said Evgeny Zabarchuk, deputy Prosecutor General, to Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

"Prosecutor’s monitoring reveals that the majority of those in pre-trial detention centers are people who do not require this level of restriction. Within the last year 65.2 thousand people have been released, of them 18.9 thousand were charged with crimes of little and average gravity. Why did they have to be imprisoned ?"

"In the Republic of Altai, Yakutia, Chuvashia, the Volgograd region and some other areas we encountered cells in detention facilities where available area was no more than 2 square meters per person, with no ventilation, benches, radio and individual sleeping spaces."

Another alarming trend is the growth of female crime. “This trend is getting stronger. In female correction facilities the number of convicts is larger than the number of places available. There are 46 female correction facilities in Russia for 38.5 thousand people occupied by 49 thousand, said Zabarchuk.

He said the situation was similar in 50% of child care centers in correction facilities. “Lack of space causes sanitary issues and aggravates the situation. The Federal Service for Execution of Punishment is trying to take measures, but they are not adequate to the real situation, which requires analysis and serious decisions.”

There are seven prisons, 657 correction facilities including 160 penal colonies-settlements and 62 juvenile correctional facilities in Russia. There are also 226 detention facilities and another 164 buildings that function like detention facilities, and 98 medical correctional facilities.

"In total there are 861,687 prisoners in Russia, which is 29 thousand fewer than at the same period of last year. Additionally, there are approximately 2.5 thousand of penalty execution inspections.”

Zabarchuk also stated that last year over 4,000 people died in prisons. "Both high rate of illnesses and mortality among convicts is alarming. This is a separate issue. The majority of convicts are not old people or young children, but active, strong individuals. Nonetheless, many of them do not live to their release or get out disabled. Last year alone 4,150 people died in prisons. Another 521 people died in detention facilities."

He stated that the rights of prisoners for protection of health and sanitary conditions are not observed. “Medical equipment is in extremely poor condition as it has been used for 20 to 30 years. Most detention facilities have no medical equipment at all.”

He added that in Dagestan, the Astrakhan and Penza region initial and routine health exams are not being conducted. “Many medical workers in Bashkortostan, Komi, and the Leningrad region failed to provide documents confirming their medical education or professional training,” he said.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov