Criticised over the poor conditions in its penitentiaries, Romania is trying to improve the situation.
Several days ago the US Department of State published its annual human rights report, criticising Romania for the conditions in its penitentiaries, which are overcrowded and below the standards set by the Council of Europe. In the absence of measures to address the situation, the forum in Strasbourg has threatened Bucharest with consistent fines, which Romanian taxpayers are by no means eager to pay.
Last year Romania passed a law reducing prison sentences for people having faced improper detention conditions. Under this law, for every 30 days spent in improper prison conditions since 2012, inmates have 6 days taken off their sentences.
And this is not the only measure taken by the authorities in this respect. On Monday, the Chamber of Deputies’ legal committee endorsed a draft law on alternative measures to prison sentences, which are not to apply to those who have committed violent crimes, to repeat offenders or those serving time for influence peddling and bribery.
Under the bill, inmates having served one-fifth of sentences of up to 5 years may switch to house arrest. Another alternative would be for them to do time at home on weekdays and stay in a detention centre on weekends. Two other proposals stipulate 20-day cuts for each scientific paper written while in prison, and house arrest for those with sentences under a year. Here is with more on the aforementioned bills from the Social Democratic MP Eugen Nicolicea, who is also the committee’s chairman:
Eugen Nicolicea: “If a judge has given a sentence of less than one year, it means the offence is not a major one and the offender poses no major social threats. Serious offenders cannot benefit from these provisions.”
Rightist MP Stelian Ion, from Save Romania Union, has voiced the opposition’s dissatisfaction with the laws:
Stelian Ion: “We must also think about the honest people in this country, who are very frustrated whenever they see that offenders are getting away with their crimes so easily. On the other hand, criminals are indirectly encouraged to carry on, knowing that they may rely on such a lax legislation.”
The bills are to be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies for approval.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)