Justice Minister: The wave of writer-convicts may decrease drastically

Justice Minister Raluca Pruna states that there are concerns about the scientific nature of certain books written by convicts and stressed that she requested the list of written recommendations of university professors and “will not be shy in the least” when taking steps if it is assessed that the law was broken.

“I am conducting a very thorough analysis starting from the fact that, since 2013, we are witnessing an absolutely impressive increase in the number of works and I want, together with the National Administration of Penitentiaries (ANP), to analyse how this procedure was enforced and, should I find that it was applied in a deficient way or through violation of the law, I want to assure everybody that I will not be shy in the least in proposing measures provided by the law (…) What I promise you, not only will this number not increase in 2016, on the contrary, I hope that the number will drop, to be in the Gauss curve and, if we do not manage to repeal this provision, to go down to the reasonable number [namely] one scientific work per year,” Raluca Pruna told private TV broadcaster Digi 24 on Wednesday evening.

The Justice Minister also stated that the legal provision on the possibility of reducing sentences for convicts who write scientific works while in detention dates from 1969, adding that it has become an issue in recent years only, when the number of books written by inmates increased considerably.

“During the years 2007 – 2010 we had one work annually published inside the Romanian penitentiary system. In 2011, we had three works, six in 2012, eleven in 2013, 69 in 2014 while in 2015 we registered a peak of 331 scientific works. We demanded from ANP and published the full list of these works and, obviously, it is for each of us to judge whether a work entitled “The Flight of an Empty Soul” or “Victory in Suffering” may be qualified as a scientific work. This is what the law stipulates and we have regulations of applying the law, as well as a decision adopted by the general manager of the National Administration of Penitentiaries in 2011, stipulating in detail the procedure to be undertaken in the situation a convicted person wishes to write a scientific work.

This procedure demands, among other things, that the person wishing to write such scientific work would attach to their request a recommendation written by a University professor or a docent that would guarantee for the importance of the chosen topic in the respective scientific field. (…). We demanded for the works of 2015 to be provided all the written recommendations of university professors and docents. There may be certain doubts, if we only look at the titles, that a few works may not be qualified as scientific works”, Raluca Pruna declared.

“Codruta Kovesi has been DNA’s best chief prosecutor”

Justice Minister Raluca Pruna says she has nothing against Laura Codruta Kovesi, whom she regards as the best National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) chief prosecutor, however underscoring that at present it is premature to opine on her mandate as DNA head being extended.

“I have nothing against Codruta Kovesi, but on the contrary, I have said it before and I reiterate it, she has probably been the best DNA chief prosecutor since the establishment of this institution,” Raluca Pruna told Digi 24.

On the other hand, in reply to a question, the Justice Minister pointed out that it is premature to say if she agrees or not to Laura Codruta Kovesi’s mandate as DNA head being extended.
When asked if she believes the same in respect to Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu, the Justice Minister said: “I would prefer not to talk about persons. We are talking about procedures.”
As for the prosecutor’s offices heads appointment procedure, Raluca Pruna underscored that this procedure would be a transparent one and focused on the candidates’ integrity.
She did not wish to comment on the political negotiations that took place in the previous nominations of the prosecutor’s offices heads, according to Agerpres.

Legal initiative against scientists behind bars

According to data released by the National Administration of Penitentiaries, at the request of the Justice Minister, during 2013-2015, 188 convicts wrote and published over 400 books.

Also, besides the promises by the Justice Minister that seems determined to take measures against the “fashion” of scientists behind bars, there is a legal initiative by 15 members of the Parliament destined to stop the wave of convicts that benefits of the possibility to reduce the period of detention by 30 days for each licensed scientific work, invention or innovation.
The legal proposal stipulates the abrogation of letter f) of article no. 96, paragraph 1 of the Law no. 254 / 2013 concerning the completion of punishments and freedom depriving measures ordered by legal institutions during the trial, granting the convicts the possibility to reduce the period of detention by 30 days “in the case of the elaboration of published scientific works or licensed inventions and innovations, for each scientific work, licensed invention or innovation”.

Initiators claim that the “present law of completing the convictions stimulates imposture and allows the tricking of freedom depriving punishment” and that the “simple activity of creation in the penitentiary do not guarantee that the antisocial attitude of the person will change the better”, according to the explanation report of the draft law.

The reduction of the detention period by 30 days for each licensed scientific work, invention or innovation “cannot be valid in the case of persons with top instruction and upper professional qualification, that cannot invoke the unfamiliarity with laws or failure to understand antisocial acts committed”, the initiators declared.

According to the explanation of reasons, “the probation release commission cannot have competences to judge the value of an invention or of a scientific work, nor to guarantee that the respective invention or work was not elaborated by someone outside the penitentiary and purchased by the convict, in return for other benefits due to be supplied to the real author after release.”

The fifteen members of Parliament who demand the change in the legal frame for completing the offences and freedom depriving measures claim that, based on the present legislation, “most false scientific researchers and occasion writers convicted for corruption deeds in the last few years were released on probation.”

“There are plenty of top level politicians, footballers and nouveau riches these days who, once they were put behind bars, discovered unsuspected literary and scientific talent and managed, each of them, in no less than a few months, to publish more books than the entire Cultural Institute in a few years. It is unacceptable that these people convicted for corruption would benefit of a faulty law that would allow them to return faster to their fortune earned by stealing and then to grant us lessons of morality and good education”, independent Senator Valeriu Todirascu, one of the initiators of the draft law declared, according to ziare.com.

The draft law is due to be discussed by the Senate in the session starting in February. The Chamber of Deputies is the decision reaching forum.

New CSM President: “It is impossible to write a book in 48 hours”

Judge Mircea Aron, elected on Wednesday Chairman of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) declared, referring to books published by convicts, that it was impossible to write a book in 48 hours and the Council has already made concrete proposals of change in the law, forwarded to the Ministry of Justice.

Asked questions by journalists concerning the impressive number of books written by convicts in order to get a cut in their sentence, Aron declared that he had already made actual proposals to manage this situation to Committee 1 in CSM he had coordinated, and the respective proposals were already forwarded to be Ministry of Justice.

“We have been thinking about this matter for a while, as we were assaulted by this wave, as we saw that judges, just like prosecutors, need it as they are endlessly involved in this trial of conditioned release. We worked on it and we said what was going on was not OK. It is impossible to write a book in 48 hours, as I have read somewhere yesterday. Not any work was scientific and not everything that is printed is a book. (…).

Anyway, the proposal including the changes in the law is sent and you know very well that we can have initiatives in this field that we can forward to the Justice Minister”, the new President of CSM declared.

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