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Minister of Corrections announces ‘revolutionary’ moves for prisoners’ rights

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, October 16
The Minister of Corrections of Georgia, Kakhi Kakhishvili, has announced two “revolutionary” advancements his Ministry planned to implement on behalf of inmates and the agencies working on prisoners’ rights.

In particular, the Public Defender’s office will be able to take photos of inmates and their accommodation (and living conditions) from next year.

“We have already adopted the revolutionary regulation and Parliament confirmed it. Now we are working on the rules for the regulation and the photos to be used for doing a job and not for other, unreasonable purposes,” Kakhishvili said.

The Minister added that the Ombudsman’s representatives will be permitted to take photos of injures if a prisoner has any, and all the facilities used by inmates that were prohibited in previous years.

On another note, Kakhishvili stated that his ministry was working on a regulation that will allow those inmates with certain craftsmanship skills to work for various, outside-prison institutions, and receive salaries on plastic cards while being incarcerated in penitentiary institutions.

“We also intend to launch a webpage through which such inmates will sell their products,” the Minister said.

Kakhishvili noted that the United States (US) Government, the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) will support the Ministry in this direction.

In addition, under the new regulations adopted this summer, all criminal cases in Georgia involving minors will now be handled by police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judges who specialise in juvenile offending.

The main changes to the Juvenile Justice System related to the youth offender's criminal record and prison terms.

According to the new law, young offenders now have a reduced pre-trial detention period from 60 to 40 days. A young offender's conviction status will be removed as soon as their sentence period has finished. The period of being classed as an accused will be extended up to six months.

Changes in penalties were also imposed through the new law. Life imprisonment was replaced with house arrest, and imprisonment as a form of punishment will be used only when strictly necessary, particularly for severe crimes in which a youth was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10-15 years imprisonment. Additionally, the new law stated that life imprisonment for juveniles is now prohibited.