News 27 Feb 13

Romania's Crowded Prisons Could Improve, Report

Jail conditions are far better in Romania than what they were - but overcrowding and poor diet remain a problem, a new report says.

Marian Chiriac

The number of inmates in Romania’s prisons has risen constantly in recent years and the government spends over 41 million euro a year in supporting them, according to a recent report from the National Prison Administration, ANP.

Romania has over 31,800 prisoners today and the number has risen by over 5,000 in the last five years, the report shows.

The situation has eased compared with ten years ago, however, when there were some 52,000 detainees in a system with a capacity for only 30,000.

The high number of prisoners is still a burden, however. According to official data, the state spends around 495 lei (109 euro) a month per inmate.

Activists say the situation in Romanian prisons has improved, but could be better. Their main concern is poor diet and inadequate medical attention.

“Improving the judicial system is a must for Romania. But improving the judiciary cannot be achieved without overhauling the ailing prison system in which inmates, including children, are held in conditions that still do not comply with Western European standards,” the Association for Defence of Human Rights in Romania – Helsinki Committee, said.

Despite efforts to modernise, Romanian jails still fall below European standards with inadequate toilet and washing facilities. Many are difficult to renovate because of the way they were built and few have set-aside dining rooms.

However, many detainees are poor and cannot afford three meals a day or television in the outside world. So, despite the overcrowding, conditions are relatively good for some in comparison to what they’re used to.

Romania’s prison system has 21 units for preventive arrest, 15 closed and maximum security prisons, 16 prisons with open and semi-open regimes, two prisons for minors and one for women-only.

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