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Re-socialisation of convicts to be target of the Ministry of Justice in the penitentiary sector in 2019

25/01/2019

On 24 January, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia Artak Zeynalyan paid a visit to the Penitentiary Service to sum up the activities carried out in the penitentiary sector in 2018. Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia Suren Krmoyan, Head of the Penitentiary Service Artyom Mkhoyan, Deputy Heads of the Penitentiary Service, heads of penitentiary institutions and others participated in the meeting.

During the presentation of the report on the activities, it was reported that a total of AMD 315,078,000 had been saved from the funds allocated to the penitentiary system under different programmes and returned to the State Budget.

In 2018:

  • 236 people were granted identification cards and passports, exceeding the indicator of 2017 by 96;
  • 2075 people were transferred to civic hospitals (327 more cases compared to the same period in 2017);
  • for the purpose of ensuring employment for convicts, the Penitentiary Service and the "Support to Convicts" Foundation engaged 563 convicts in different activities, including for other employers, and 148 convicts were included in recreational unions;
  • 138 convicts exercised their right to education (compared to 108 in 2017), including 47 (general education), 84 (vocational) and 7 (higher education and post-graduate education);
  • penitentiary institutions organised 116 sporting events (1400 people participated), 19 enlightening events (390 people participated) and 17 cultural events (899 people participated); chess, draughts, tennis, domino and football, billiard tournaments were held;
  • the "Legal Education and Rehabilitation Programmes Implementation Centre" State Non-Commercial Organisation held courses on "Healthy Lifestyle", "Social Training and Life Skills" and "Decorative-Applied Art" at "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution, and 78 female convicts participated in the courses; a course on "Basic Literacy" (Armenian language and literature, mathematics) was held for minor detained persons and convicts, four participated in the course; courses on "Pottery and the Technology of Pottery Firing and Painting", "Contemporary Applied Arts and Crafts", "Woodworking and Artistic Wood Engraving", "Computer Skills Training", "Basic Knowledge of Russian Language" and other courses were held with the participation of 25 convicts at "Armavir" Penitentiary Institution;
  • English language courses (8 participants), computer skills courses (13 participants, 8 of which received certificates), fitness courses (12 participants), yoga lessons (14 participants), hairdressing courses (5 participants) and culinary courses (7 participants) are held at "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution through funding provided by the U.S. Embassy and within the scope of the "Establishing a Culture of Effectiveness and Transparency of Rehabilitation" Programme being implemented by Civil Society Institute NGO at "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution;
  • a handicraft works club (crocheting, carpet weaving) opened at "Abovyan" Penitentiary Institution with the support of the Women's Development Resource Centre Foundation, 8 people were engaged.

The Minister of Justice asked the administration of the Penitentiary Service about the indicator of convicts benefiting from video calls, the activities aimed at improving the quality of food and eliminating the criminal sub-culture and assigned to oversee and prevent manifestations of corruption, gambling, penetration of prohibited items with maximum strictness and to make the change of regimes for convicts predictable. According to Minister Zeynalyan, even though positive dynamics is noticeable in the system, nevertheless, he is not preparing to be satisfied with what there is, and the activities for development of the penitentiary sector will be carried out with more vigour and more rapidly.

Suren Krmoyan expressed gratitude to all the employees of the Penitentiary Service and emphasised that, in 2019, the target will be the re-socialisation of persons being kept at penitentiary institutions, the application of incentive measures for convicts who behave properly, as well as the development and implementation of programmes aimed at preventing self-harm and suicides. At the same time, the Deputy Minister emphasised that the statistics on recidivism upon release from penitentiary institutions will underlie the indicator of assessment of the effectiveness of the activities carried out by the Penitentiary Service and penitentiary institutions throughout 2019.

Head of the Penitentiary Service Artyom Mkhoyan also gave a number of assignments to the employees of the system, requiring them to be intolerant towards corruption and the criminal sub-culture and maximally reduce the number of cases of penetration of prohibited items, rule out gambling, continue the activities aimed at improving the quality of food, etc.

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