The Special Penitentiary Service calls the Public defender’s statements “baseless allegations” and claims that there is no criminal subculture in the penitentiaries.
“The Special Penitentiary Service [SPS] is responding to the statement of the Public Defender as if her representatives are facing problems from the “informal rulers” supported by the prison administration during their visit to the penitentiary institutions.
The management of the SPS does its utmost to facilitate the monitoring of the situation in penitentiary institutions by the Ombudsman and representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism. This is evidenced by the fact that despite the restrictions relating to COVID-19, the Public defender’s representatives have not encountered a problem with access to and monitoring of penitentiary institutions. As for the allegedly organized attacks on them by prisoners, agency’s management has no leverage to influence the attitude of prisoners towards the Ombudsman, or any other institution or individual. If prisoners in any penitentiary institution express dissatisfaction towards the Public defender on any issue, it is only their attitude and is not related or managed by the administration of the penitentiary institution. Moreover, in such cases, representatives of the administration of penitentiary institutions protect the safety of the Ombudsman’s representatives as much as possible, and hopefully, these individuals themselves cannot deny this.
The SPS also has no leverage to influence the rate of prisoners’ applications to the Public Defender’s Office, as prisoners have the right to free correspondence and telephone communication (with certain exceptions, which are regulated by law). The penitentiaries ensure that their letters be sent to the addressees.
There is no criminal subculture in penitentiary institutions. Penitentiary institutions are run by the state and not by criminal authorities. And those convicts who wish to influence other inmates are transferred from semi-open penitentiary institutions to closed institutions where they are isolated from other inmates”, - reads the statement.