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No rubber batons and long solitary confinement for inmates

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 6
A permanent commission composed of MPs and NGOs responsible for the early release of prisoners will be abolished. The maximum length of solitary confinement will be reduced and the rubber batons will no longer to be used against inmates. These and some other amendments that were recommended by the Council of Europe have been adopted in the Prison Code and sent to parliament for approval.

Instead of the above mentioned permanent commission, the issues related to pre-term release of prisoners will be decided by local councils.

The councils are currently dealing with the issues. They are discussing prisoner cases; select those deserving of early release and send the list of such inmates to the permanent commission. If parliament confirms the amendments pushed forward by the Ministry of Corrections, the local councils will make solutions independently.

When it comes to solitary confinement, the maximum length will be reduced from 20 to14 days.

If necessary, instead of rubber batons, prison staff can use ordinary batons of the patrol police.

As noted in the amendmentsí explanatory note, training of the Penitentiary Department employees showed that the use of rubber batons is not recommended in closed spaces because of their shape and strength.

Batons may be used against prisoners only for the purpose of preventing them from damaging themselves or others, as well as for preventing crime, offenses, attacks, mass disorder and disobedience.

Another innovation in the amendments is the penitentiary department reform. In particular, the Department of Corrections, which is currently a sub-department of the Ministry of Corrections, will be shut down and transformed into a penitentiary department.

The penitentiary system will be organized on the basis of separation of functions. The ministry structure will be divided into civil service and special penitentiary service.

Implementation of the above mentioned reform requires amendments to 41 laws.