JUSTICE

Romanian prison inmates have written 157 books since 2014

Persons on detention have written 157 books from the beginning of 2014 until June 2015, in order to have their sentence reduced and qualify for conditional release, according to information issued by the National Prison Administration (ANP) quoted by Romania TV.

The number of books written in prison grew compared to previous years, according to ANP statistics which indicate that, in 2012 and 2013, a total of 97 books were written by people serving custodial sentences, Agerpres states.

Under the law on the service of sentences, Section 96, letter f, ‘in the case of the writing of scientific works published or patented inventions and innovations, each scientific work published or [patented invention or innovation counts towards 30 days of imprisonment’.

Recently, after the press had indicated that some of the books written in prison might be plagiarised, Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc has announced there were several proposals for amending the law on the service of prison sentences. According to him, such changes of legislation are aimed at bringing clarifications on what the scientific character of a work is.

‘The scientific character is not easy to determine. There is a dispute even in the academic environment on what scientific means in this matter. Several proposals are being currently analysed, both at the Ministry of Justice, ANP and the Superior Council of Magistrates. (…) The legislation in force dates back to 2006 and it certainly needs updating’, Minister Cazanciuc was saying.

Some of the allegations regarded businessman Gheorghe Copos, convicted in the ‘Football transfers’ case, who has been conditionally released in the meantime.

While in detention, Copos wrote four books that were published by the Niculescu publishing house – ‘Matrimonial alliances in the policy of Romanian princes in Tara Romaneasca and Moldavia in the 14th – 16th centuries’, ‘Medieval Tasnad’, ‘Franchise vs. management in hospitality industry’ and ‘Tourism, vector of interculturality’ – as well as a book published by the Meteor Press publishing house – ‘Sustainable European tourism and its challenges’.

Mihai Stoica, Gheorghe Popescu, Sorin Ovidiu Vintu, Miron Mitrea (still on detention’), as well as Adrian Nastase and George Becali (conditionally released) have also written or are writing books in prison.

National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) says it has sent a memo to the Superior Council of Magistrates asking the institution for its opinion on the opportunity of changes of legislation in the field.

DNA’s argument for trying to amend the law is that, in order for a person to be able to write such scientific works, they need to refer to the relevant literature – encyclopaedias, lexicons, glossaries, vocabularies, dictionaries – ‘that cannot be reasonably available in prison’. In its note to CSM, DNA also refers to the situation in other countries in Europe where there are no regulations for a reduction of custodial sentences for inmates who write scientific works.

The Ethics Commission of the University of Bucharest has also reacted on this. Its representatives have said that, based on the information received from the Prison Administration, they had identified ‘major flaws’ in the legislative framework on the reduction of sentences for prisoners who write and publish scientific books while in detention.

 

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