October 01, 1998

Notebook



Justice for All?

Russia's current ban on capital punishment may soon become permanent. Justice Minister Pavel Krashennikov stated that Russia will abolished the death penalty in April of next year, a move the country must make to retain its membership in the Council of Europe. But the government seeks to place the move in the context of wider penal reforms. Management of Russia’s prisons is being transferred from the Interior Ministry to the Justice Ministry and measures are being sought to make penal servitude more humane, like separating juvenile and adult prisoners and substituting fines and public service for jail time. Krashennikov has also announced his intention to ask for amnesty for a huge swath of Russian prisoners -- those convicted of non-violent offenses, or about one-third of all prison inmates. Hopefully, inmates will be quarantined before their release: international medical organizations report that Russian prisons have become an incubator for a new, lethal strain of TB that is drug resistant and carried by some 10-15,000 inmates.

 


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