Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?



Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?

Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?


05/01.2020 11:00


3000 prisoners previously exempted from sentence in Ukraine

On April 27, the Council of Ministers of Ukraine presented to the Verkhovna Rada a bill No. 3397 on the amnesty of convicted prisoners (as part of the prevention of the spread of acute respiratory diseases COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus).

The document, as stated in the explanatory note from the Ministry of Justice, aims to “prevent the onset and spread of acute respiratory diseases COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in penal establishments”, “reduce the number of people serving a sentence in these establishments ”(by April 1, there were 32,000,942),“ savings in budgetary funds devoted to keeping prisoners in good condition ”, as well as the possibility of creating appropriate conditions for the execution of sentences for people who will continue to be in these establishments Yeah.

In the case of the adoption of the bill, which was developed in accordance with Article 92 of the Constitution of Ukraine with the aim of demonstrating the humanism of the State in the field of the enforcement of sentences criminal, 3009 people are subject to a prior release from sentence. It’s less than 10% …


In particular, it is proposed that those convicted of a willful crime, mild or not particularly serious, convicted of a negligent, not particularly serious crime, be freed from any term sentence and other sentences not related to deprivation of liberty. as well as those for whom criminal cases have been heard by the courts for these crimes, but the sentences have not come into force:

  • at the time of the crime, there were minors;
  • pregnant women on the day the law comes into force;
  • are not deprived of parental rights which, on the date of entry into force of the law, have children under the age of 18, disabled children and / or adults of a son, a daughter, recognized as People with Disabilities;
  • recognized on the day of entry into force of the law in the manner prescribed by disabled people in the first, second or third group, as well as patients with active tuberculosis (categories of clinics 1-4), cancer (stages III , IV according to the international classification of TNM), of AIDS (III, IV clinical stages according to the classification of the WHO) and other serious diseases which hinder the execution of sentences and fall under the definition of the list of diseases which are the basis for the submission to the court of documents on the release of convicts in addition to the execution of the sentence provided for in Annex 12 to the procedure for the organization of medical care for prisoners sentenced to prison terms;
  • who have reached the law on retirement age established by article 26 of the law on compulsory state pension insurance on the date of entry into force of the law;
  • ex-combatants (ex-combatants, persons disabled by war and former combatants covered by the law on the status of veterans, guarantees of their social protection);
  • participants in the liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident and those affected by the Chernobyl disaster – persons covered by the law on the status and social protection of citizens affected by the Chernobyl disaster and similar laws of others States – former republics of the USSR;
  • having one or both parents who have reached the age of 70 or who are recognized as disabled in the first group on the date of entry into force of this Law, provided that these parents have no other able-bodied children.


Recently, the management of the Ministry of Justice reported that the maximum possible anti-epidemic measures had been introduced in the prisons. In particular, dates are limited (but online meetings are allowed), staff temperature monitoring and daily inmate inspection have been introduced. All packages are sent to “suck” within 24 hours or disinfected. Prisoners are only walked with those with whom they are in the same cell.

Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?

In prisons, a staff temperature control and a daily inspection of detainees have been introduced / Photo “”

However, according to former head of the State Prison Service of Ukraine Sergey Starenky, even very strict preventive measures still leave many possibilities of infection to enter the “area”. It can be referred to by “compulsory visitors” – from staff to prosecutors.

“We understand that temperature testing is a very conditional thing that doesn’t show the exact temperature, and a person may not even guess that they are sick,” says Sergey Starenky

Mass infection will add considerably to the burden on medical institutions, as conditions in settlements and pre-trial detention centers do not provide assistance in the event of severe disease progression. Patients will have to be taken out of the prison to a general hospital under surveillance. However, the necessary number of escorts will be difficult to provide if “God forbid, half of the colony becomes ill,” said the former head of the prison service.

“If it is one or two cases, then this is one, and when there are 50 … It is almost impossible to provide such an amount of protection. You need at least three security guards for each detainee, ”says Old.

And he adds that these institutions are in very poor condition: “There is no adequate cleaning, ventilation and sewage system. This is a Klondike for viruses, they can spread quite quickly. Therefore, I think the number of people incarcerated should be reduced as much as possible. I asked for this earlier on April 2. But the Justice Department then reported that, they say, everything is fine, the situation is under control. Finally understood. But while they are “rocking” – it may be too late. After all, the amnesty procedure does not provide that they passed a law in Parliament and that the prisoners were released immediately. No, not so simple. First, Parliament adopts the law. Then, the administrations of the institutions prepare a memorial to the court which examines each case separately. And then … We have to wait another 15 days for the court decision to take effect. Oh, this thing can take so long that the first amnesties, even if the law is passed today or tomorrow, will not be released until the end of May. It is too long. Today, several unconfirmed suspicions accompanied by symptoms are already known in the pre-trial detention centers of Chernivtsi and Kiev. (The Press Service of the Department of the Execution of Criminal Sentences reported that on April 28, out of 6 cases of COVID-19 infection, 4 were found among GUIS employees in Ukraine, 2 among those placed in police custody at the Chernivtsi detention center and at the GU “Kropyvnytskyi Pre-trial Detention Center”).

In turn, infectious disease doctor Yevgeny Grechukha says that if the coronavirus enters a closed prison system, many factors will contribute to its spread. First, late diagnosis and quality of medicine. People in prison are then diagnosed: they are first suspected of tuberculosis or other viral diseases – pneumococcal pneumonia, atypical infections. “Many prisoners also suffer from concomitant illnesses – HIV infection, hepatitis. And this increases the risk of severe COVID disease, ”he explains in a comment on

Second, overcrowded cameras. In Ukrainian realities, up to 3 to 4 prisoners can be held in individual cells. “We had such an experience in one of the cities, a very old prison – 300-400 years ago, and up to 20 prisoners were in one cell at a time. It’s a lot. The peculiarity of the detainees’ behavior is that they are in close contact with each other, which is ideal for coronaviruses, ”noted the doctor.

Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?

Social distance in the Lukyanovsky pretrial detention center …

Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?

… and the Buchan penal colony / the two photos: Attorney General’s Facebook

Third, curiously, the doctors themselves. Of course, while the detainees remain in the cell, the risk of contracting is leveled. But the medical staff who treat and examine these patients work not only in prisons, but also in hospitals. “Combine because low wages. They are often, for example, doctors or therapists for tuberculosis who are now at the center of the infection and who work with the coronavirus, ”explains Buckwheat.

Fourth, there is insufficient indoor air exchange.

“There is no single way to defend yourself against coronavirus in places of liberty. Only increased control and social distance, explains the specialist in infectious diseases. “But we understand that if there is only one patient in the colony, we can expect almost everyone to start hurting their floor.”


Sergei Starenky is convinced that the release of 3,000 people will not affect the criminal situation in the country. “Let’s objectively assess: if 3,000 people are released, then on average 120 people will be released in one region of Ukraine. They will disperse. This is a drop in the ocean. However, if these 120 people are released, it will considerably unload the medical units and prevent the spread of the disease, ”explains Starenky.

Until 2011, amnesties in Ukraine were held each year, he said, on Independence Day the Verkhovna Rada passed a law. Under Yanukovych, this activity was slowed down. The amnesty only occurred once. “And society didn’t even notice, these people weren’t threatening. For example, in the past 6 years, we have had two amnesties: at the height of revolutionary events in 2014, when the new government came in and released around 20,000 prisoners, and adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in December 2016, but actually implemented (signed by the President) in 2017 year. Remember, then the spears were still “broken” in order to apply the amnesty to the ATO participants. All of them, more and more authorities have not deemed it necessary to introduce such bills, although this is normal practice. Our legislation provides that it is possible to amnesty prisoners every year, ”says Starenky.

Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, has a slightly different opinion on this. Amnesty under the pretext of quarantine – according to the expert, it is the least balanced decision of all expectations at present. “First, the question is already out of date. This could still be said when the situation with the coronavirus has worsened. And now when we prepare for “adaptive quarantine” – it has lost its relevance. Second, today, everyone who is forced to stay with many other people for a long time is no less in danger. But I have never heard that we – for the sake of quarantine – must reduce the army or the police. And the problem is not even the overcrowding in detention centers. In addition, some of them are closed. By the way, even the Berezansky colony No. 95, which was “visited” by the hero of Zelensky – Goloborodko in the series “Servant of the people”. The problem is actually different, ”said Petrenko.

Amnesty COVID: Who will be released and will crime increase?

Berezan colony

He believes that a massive amnesty is still a threat of corruption: when those who “have found the edges”, have relationships and bribes, go out, as well as those who are the victims. “And no matter what they justify – repentance, motherhood, participation in hostilities, state of health – in mass mode, they will not carefully check every case. And, it is clear that a blind approach (unlike an individual amnesty) always leads to the fact that people prone to relapse fall free. And it’s also clear that as soon as the fear of the coronavirus subsides and the feeling of crisis deepens, it will lead to an increase in crime. Even without the fact that people will start to be released from prisons, ”says Petrenko.


Around the world, prisoners are released from prison. This idea is supported by the UN: the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for the release of those in danger. According to her, in many countries, prisons are overcrowded, in such conditions, physical distance and self-isolation are almost impossible. “The authorities must take steps to avoid the death of prisoners and staff members,” she urged.

For example, in France, more than 5,000 people will be released. According to French media, the convicts will be released “for minor crimes, the prison term is coming to an end and who have shown good behavior and are serving a sentence”.

In Germany, these decisions are taken at federal level. Authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia have announced that around 1,000 prisoners will be released from prison – those whose sentence does not exceed 18 months, as well as those serving a sentence instead of a fine. Regional officials stress that this is a temporary solution: after the epidemic ends, people will have to return to prison and serve a sentence.

US Attorney General William Barr said he had ordered – if possible – to transfer some prisoners from prison to house arrest. Similar measures had already been reported at the regional level. In Los Angeles, in the near future, around 1.7 thousand “convicts” will be released, which will allow local prisons to be discharged by 10%. New York Mayor De Blasio has announced plans to release more than 300 prisoners who have committed minor and non-violent crimes. According to him, “no one over the age of 70 or with health problems should currently be in prison”.

Prisoners will be released in some Latin American countries. Particularly in Argentina and Colombia, where they recently rebelled in prisons. At the same time, the Ecuadorian authorities, where a wave of riots also took place in the prisons, are in no hurry to release anyone: in order to prevent massive infections in the country, they have decided to further reinforce the protection of condemned establishments.

The most widespread release of prisoners has taken place in Iran. In March, three groups were released – 54,000, 70,000 and 85,000 people. It was assumed that many of them would remain at large until April 3, but later the date of return to prison was postponed by several weeks. 50% of those released in the latter group have already been sentenced “for security threats”, that is, political prisoners.

Miroslav Liskovich. Kiev

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