Russian jail inmates to be offered work on farms


Moscow, May 7 (IANS): Russia’s Federal Service for Penitentiaries (FSIN) plans opening farms where prison inmates will be offered an opportunity to work, Valery Maksimenko, a deputy director of the service said on Thursday at a conference at Russia’s Public Chamber.

The practice will be applied nationwide from Vladivostok to the Baltic shores, TASS news agency reported.

The conference Maksimenko addressed was devoted to social rehabilitation of inmates.

FSIN has already organised a pilot project in the Vologda region in northern Russia -- it helped the regional authorities there to revitalise a table poultry plant.

"Not only did we manage to keep the plant up but we also provided jobs to the local population and to the inmates," he said.

Residents of the Vologda region make up about 90 percent of all the inmates doing their terms in the penitentiaries located there. According to Maksimenko, many of them lived in neighbouring districts or, sometimes, villages of the same region before imprisonment.

"We also made an arrangement (with the local authorities) for providing former inmates with housing once they are released from jail," he said. "It’s an open secret that many former village dwellers have abandoned their rural households and the houses are now empty."

Maksimenko said FSIN would help rebuild these houses and thus “furnish the population with jobs and roof over their heads".

He admitted the fact that not all former inmates would switch back to a normal life.

"Still they’ll have a choice between remaining in the realm of criminality or working and living normally," Maksimenko said.

FSIN plans getting control over a second such plant shortly. The number of bankrupt table poultry plants on its list of rehabilitated enterprises operating under the inmate employment scheme will eventually go up to four or five.

Maksimenko recalled that the Vologda plant project had been supported by Russian agricultural bank Rosselkhozban, calling the project quite successful.

"That’s a pilot project, of course, but we hope to apply the experience on a space from Vladivostok to (the westernmost Baltic region of) Kaliningrad," he said, inviting those who had doubts about the proposal to visit the city of Cherepovets some 400 km to the north of Moscow and to see how the first plant was functioning.

  

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