Penitentiary system reform passes its first reading in Parliament
Georgian Parliament has passed in the first reading, with 92 votes ‘aye’, the bill on amendments to the Imprisonment Code, as well as other 19 legislative acts that provide for the penitentiary system reform.
Under the amendments, special facilities will be set up at the penitentiary institutions to prepare prison inmates for release. The facility will accommodate low or medium-risk level prisoners, with the remaining term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. A prison inmate staying in this facility will be entitled to leave the place of custody for a time, provided that he/she meets certain requirements. He/she will be allowed to leave the place of custody to study, work or just to spend a weekend ‘at large’. In the case of violation, the perpetrators will be facing prison escape charges.
In addition, after serving a certain period of imprisonment, convicts will be allowed to spend the rest of the term of imprisonment under house arrest. The local councils at the Ministry of Penitentiary will be authorized to decide on the aforesaid. The Ministry officials do not exclude the possibility that house arrest could be made fee-based and that the amount of the fee will be set by the Minister.
Female prisoners will be eligible for family visits –relevant permission should be confirmed by the penitentiary institution chief and the head of the penitentiary department. Also, women, whose children had been staying in custody with them and who left the penitentiary institution upon attaining the age of 3, will be entitled to leave the penitentiary institution for weekends. It will be up to the penitentiary institution chief to decide on granting a female prisoner such right based on her conduct and the nature of crime committed.
In addition, the amendments also provide for the prisoners’ right to procure and install TV sets, as well as release of seriously ill prisoners under the court ruling and prisoners’ provision with clothing and footwear.