The reforms of correctional institutions were introduced to the head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office

3 August 2018

A Normanto ir TM susitikimasMinister of Justice Mr Elvinas Jankevičius introduced principal aspects of the reform of correctional institutions to the head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office, Mr Augustinas Normantas. During the meeting, the problems encountered in imprisonment institutions were discussed. The Minister drew the attention of the Seimas Ombudsman to the fact that the issues will be solved systematically—reforming the Prison Department, correctional institutions, and strengthening criminal intelligence structures and the probation service.

The Seimas Ombudsman Mr Normantas pointed out the issues of the prevalence of subcultures in prisons as well as the matter of the accommodation of problematic prisoners in solitary confinement cells. Taking note of the problems in penitentiaries, the Seimas Ombudsman noted that the Prison Department should work more effectively in examining complaints of convicts: "The problems are often identified in complaints of prisoners; if they were resolved [in a timely manner] there would be fewer crisis states."

The Head of the Prison Department, Mr Robertas Krikštaponis, noted that all officials of correctional institutions would receive additional training; then the professional standards for prison service staff will be developed, and their qualifications will be cultivated. Moreover, the additional budget for increasing the salaries for prison staff is foreseen: "We will try to develop the qualification of our employees, improve their self-confidence, and increase their salaries."

In presenting the reforms of correctional institutions, the Minister of Justice drew the attention of the Seimas Ombudsman to the fact that the Lukiskes Remand Prison, which was highly criticised by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) owing to degrading conditions, will be closed at the beginning of next year. Further, the Alytus Correctional House will be reconstructed into solitary confinement cells for the accommodation of problematic prisoners. The Minister of Justice was pleased that single confinement cells at the Pravieniškės Correction House will be opened in September and that the centre of attention will be the re-socialisation of convicts.

Speaking about the employment of the prisoners, the Minister of Justice noted that a state-owned enterprise "Mūsų amatai," which carries out state-commissioned social functions for integrating the sentenced persons, will be reorganised to reach the highest efficiency of the employment of prisoners: "The company will be tasked with servicing the system of correctional institutions by recruiting the prisoners."

In response to the recommendations of the Seimas Ombudsman to strengthen the efficiency of the Prisons Department, Mr R. Krikštaponis drew the attention of Mr Normantas to the fact that in reforming the Prison Department, particular attention will be paid to the strengthening of probation services that oversee persons who have been subjected to penalty alternatives to imprisonment.

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