Over 500 thousand Russian prisoners suffer from variety of sicknesses

Russia ranks third in the world on the number of prisoners per capita, following the USA and the Cayman islands

Two-thirds of 777 thousand Russian prisoners suffer from serious illnesses – from HIV and syphilis to mental disorders, a spokesman for the Russian Justice Ministry, Vladimir Yalunin said.

”There are about 500,000 prisoners suffering from various ailments in Russian jails nowadays, which include socially significant illnesses. There are about 35 thousand HIV-positive people among them, 58 thousand TB-infected individuals, over 55 thousand chronic alcoholics and 86 thousand drug addicts. More than 120 thousand Russian prisoners are mentally unbalanced individuals,” Yalunin said. 

According to the official, Russian prisons have to deal with up to 30,000 TB patients every year. However, Yalunin said, the quality of the medical service in prisons is improving. Such progress became possible owing to the $38-milion loan from the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In addition, the development of the Russian penal and executive system has exerted a positive influence on the situation too. The loan is scheduled to be used for purchasing medicines, X-ray equipment, and other equipment for medical laboratories in prisons. Authorities have found another source of financial help too: “The Russian Justice Ministry and the Healthcare Ministry are determined to submit an application to the Global Fund established by the Group of Eight,” Vladimir Yalunin stated.

The official emphasized that all those efforts allowed to reduce the number of prisoners, who suffered from the active (or open) form of tuberculosis, - from 100 thousand to 58.7 thousand people. In addition, Yalunin added, the measures allowed to considerably lower the TB sickness and death rate in prisons in comparison with 1999.

Russia ranks third in the world on the number of prisoners per capita: 638 perpetrators for every 100 thousand law-abiding citizens. The two top places on the list belong to the USA and the Cayman islands, according to the statistics from the international center for prison studies.

The Russian government is gradually changing the Penal code to solve the overpopulation issue in colonies and detention centers. It is planned to mitigate punishments for those criminals, who do not represent a great danger to the society.

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Author`s name Olga Savka