Latviski English По-русски
Monday 19.02.2018 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna

A talk with prison chief on released murderers with immunity status, marriage and suicides in Latvian prisons

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«A person who, during the time of the commission of the offence, was in a state of mental incapacity, that is, due to a mental disorder or mental disability was not able to understand his or her acts or control them, may not be held criminally liable,» as stated in the Criminal Law. But what happens when such a person commits a crime again? Should it be considered an error committed by Latvian medical institutions – that such a person is not held responsible for his or her actions? Is it the blindness of the government that prevents resolving one of the most serious problems – monitoring such persons?

«The problem when a person previously released from criminal liability due to mental problems committing a crime again is not resolved well enough. There is no institution to put these people in. In addition, people put in mental hospitals for taking someone’s life are also dangerous for the people working there,» said Prison Administration Chief General Ilona Spure in an interview to BNN.

Spure says that people with a tendency to repeat crimes are put in psychiatric hospitals, but not for long. After being provided with medical assistance – administration of necessary medication – those people are released. This is considered progress. «The problem is that such institutions lack the space, which is often the reason why those people are released early. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single institution in Latvia that would monitor those people after they have been released. This, unfortunately, means those people are free to repeat crimes.»

As noted by Spure, the Prison Administration has no authority to comment on how accurate psychological assessment process is – when a person is declared mentally sane or insane. This decision is for medical institutions to make.

Latvian prisons hospital also has a psychiatric ward that deals with cases when a person is diagnosed with a mental disorder during their prison. «This is within our competence. However, once the prison sentence is over, we have to release the person. Once they leave prison walls – this is no longer in our competence. And this is the weak link, because there is no monitoring. Latvian ministries should sit down and think to resolve this problem,» said Spure.

When asked why this problems was not resolved in the past, Spure said the years of economic crisis are to blame – the budget was simply too constricted to afford forming new institutions. She mentioned that social centres are not effective when it comes to monitoring of people with mental incapacity who committed violent crimes.

It should be noted that it is not possible to put a person with mental incapacity in prison. «If a person is found mentally unstable or mentally unwell, that person is put in an institution that provides treatment. Often people end up in prison as partially mentally sound. Sometimes their state worsens the more time they spend in prison. Nevertheless, each case should be viewed individually,» said Spure.

Paedophilia in Latvia does not decline

According to data from State Police, crime rate in Latvia continues to decline. However, Spure allows that this data may be associated with the change of the population. She also notes that latent crime rates – crimes that go unreported to authorities – remain in majority.

«This is more about domestic violence – against children and women – as well as sex crimes, especially against children. Children subjected to paedophilia are afraid to tell about it to their parents, let alone to the police. Latent crimes prevent us from believing in a decline of crime rates.»

Speaking of paedophilia in Latvia, Spure said that there are around 350 people who face charges of paedophilia every year. She says that the number of sex crimes in Latvia does not have a tendency to decline.

«It is necessary to change people’s attitude. It is necessary for everyone to understand that involvement and reporting are two vital factors to help reduce violence. People are still often indifferent and reluctant to report violence to the police. Here it is vitally important for the police to respond to such reports – it would help people trust in authorities, knowing that the problems they report end up getting resolved.»

Unsafe Latvian prisons?

Latvia is one of the rare European countries that do not suffer from overpopulation. While a couple of years ago the total number of inmates in Latvian prisons was 6,5000, the current number is 3,772. Spure notes that the total number of inmates continues to decline. Because of that, Prison Administration cannot complain about lack of free cells.

Nevertheless, Spure says that old prisons in Latvia are not able to ensure efficient execution of sentences. This is why the government’s decision to postpone construction of Liepaja prison to 2020 is a very painful topic for Prison Administration.

«Construction of a new prison would provide many changes in matters of security. We don’t need four new prisons. Considering the gradual decline of inmates, Latvia could make due with two prisons. Unfortunately, existing prisons are not sufficiently safe on the outside, considering their geographical location. New prisons would undoubtedly increase security, and Liepaja prison already had a plan prepared to improve overall efficiency.»

Comparing Latvia to Estonia, Spure said that the neighbouring country has already sorted out this problem. Estonia has opened its third new prison, and all of the old ones have been liquidated. «This helps perform sentence execution more effectively. They have a good personnel selection system, as well as training – prison officers train for three years, and prison officials are fine waiting for three years and knowing that they will get qualified workers out of it.»

But what about Latvia? «Education opportunities are close to zero, because what is important to know for our officers was previously possible to learn in the Police Academy of Latvia. Now it is no more and nothing has been created to replace it. The current big idea is coming up with yet another project and apply for financing from the Norwegian financial instrument, because there is no other way for us to develop.»

It should be emphasized that not a single new prison was built in Latvia in the past 150 years. «What has been accomplished so far was accomplished using financial support from the Norwegian government.»

Suicides in prisons: people can’t handle psychological pressure, ‘go out’ before being let out

Spure says that in her 24-year-long career in Prison Administration, she cannot recall a single year that passed without a suicide in one of the prisons. Looking at statistics of suicides across the country, prisons take up very little, even considering the isolated environment where people are subjected to increased levels of stress and abuse on a regular basis.

«Most often such cases take place during the arrest and before the announcement of the court’s ruling. There have been cases when people received notes from home, saying ‘I want a divorce’. There have also been cases when inmates could not handle psychological pressure of the realization of being released,» Spure told BNN.

She said that the Prison Administration is currently working on a project to help former inmates. «Of course, we want to find people, institutions and municipalities to provide moral support to those people. Unfortunately, there have been cases when people could not live normal lives after being released from prison – they just commit crimes again and end up in prison. Often those people think life in prison is easier – people there don’t have to think about financial matters. Unfortunately, every next crime those people commit has the possibility of being even worse than the last,» said Spure.

Latvian inmates get marries more and more often

While in the past there had been a dozen or so marriages registered in prison a year, now the number of marriages reaches a hundred. «One the one hand, it is good that people are able to find their other halves even while in prison, ensuring that they have a place to go when they are released. On the other hand there is the quality of marriages. We have seen cases when people simply do not understand that they are getting married – they want to be loved, but reality often turns out drastically different than what they had expected before leaving prison.»

Leave a reply

For Latvia’s Development: the prime minister is gone, but finance minister claims otherwise

«What we have observed in the past several days is that Latvia’s financial sector has received several heavy strikes as a result of the government’s uncoordinated and chaotic actions. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis has evidently ‘disappeared’ and offers no clear plans to resolve the crisis, whereas Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola says different things in every interview. Such behaviour will not help resolve the crisis. It could instead pull the country’s financial sector in a much deeper crisis,» says chairman of For Latvia’s Development Juris Pūce.

Bank of Latvia provided ABLV Bank with a loan of 97.5 mln euros in exchange for securities pledge

The Bank of Latvia has provided ABLV Bank with a loan worth EUR 97.5 million in exchange for securities pledge, as confirmed by the financial institution.

Prime Minister: Bank of Latvia governor is not allowed to take official post

As a security measure, the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs has been applied with a prohibition to take post, said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Poland's halt to logging in ancient forest came after irreparable damage

Although Poland has stated logging in the old-growth Bialowieza forest has been stopped, Warsaw has failed to reveal the amount of trees already cut down.

«A good friend» pays 100,000 euro bail for arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) has applied a bail of 100,000 euros for the arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs. The bail has already been paid to the State Treasury account, as confirmed by his lawyer Saulvedis Vārpiņš.

NP: ABLV blames Latvian officials for misleading foreign institutions

Last week, the reputation of Latvia’s second largest bank – ABLV – was seriously impacted. It is believed that money laundering was this bank’s main operation, and that it failed to comply with the prohibition on cooperation with North Korea. The bank is also accused of bribery. US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rarely speaks so directly of any credit institution, says Nekā personīga programme.

Changes to third-country student residence in Estonia to add more responsibilities to university staff

The Estonian government has backed planned amendments are to the Aliens Law implementing an EU directive into Estonian law, which change how third-country nationals on enter and reside in Estonia if they are study or performing research work.

Russia criticises U.S. charges of Russian meddling in U.S. election

The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, has criticised the charges announced by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, against 13 Russian nationals and three companies for election meddling.

Government plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvian regions

The State Police plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvia’s regions, says Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis.

Syrian Kurdish fighters under attack by Turkey announce deal with Syrian government forces

The mainly Kurdish militia in the north-west of Syria have announced having reached an agreement with the Syrian government for the latter to deploy its soldiers in order to help Kurds repel the current Turkish attack.

NCP: it is highly important to replace management of Bank of Latvia and FCMC

Considering recent events, which have not only impacted the country’s finance sector but also its international reputation, the New Conservative Party (NCP) demands immediate measures to be undertaken to replace the management of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission. On top of that, it is also necessary to perform radical changes in the organization and supervision of those institutions, says NCP chairman Jānis Bordāns.

Air temperature in Latvia to gradually decline this week

On Monday, 19 February, atmospheric pressure will increase slightly in the north. With that, it is expected to snow only around Kurzeme’s south-west. Air temperature in most of Latvia will stay at -1° C… -6° C. In Kurzeme, however, air temperature will be around 0° C… +1° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania celebrating centennial of statehood

Leaders of European countries gathered in Vilnius on Friday, February 16, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of restored statehood, and festive events were taking place in many cities and towns of Lithuania.

BNN summary of the week: minister threatened with dismissal; ABLV Bank scandal

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Court; Problem; Decline; Commentary; Future; Proposal

SRS uncovered violations in 169 inspections at catering companies last year

In 2017, the State Revenue Service (SRS) performed a total of 989 inspections at 212 catering companies. This includes 182 thematic inspections for 125 taxpayers. Violations were uncovered in 169 inspections. The most common violation was manipulation with cash registers, according to information published by SRS.

Russian tourists often decide to celebrate International Women’s Day in Riga

To satisfy growing demand for bus tickets from Russia to Latvia for the week when 8 March is celebrated, Lux Express plans to organize additional buses between St Petersburg and Riga.

FCMC to investigate ABLV Bank again; no operational restrictions applied to the bank

Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) has plans to perform an additional investigation at ABLV Bank in the next couple of weeks, says the commission’s manager Pēters Putniņš, adding that no operational restrictions have been applied to the bank so far.

Study: overall sense of happiness in Latvia is record-low

60% of Latvian residents feel happy. Although this is a good index, there has been a general decline of the sense of happiness, according to a study performed by Amigo mobile network operator and SKDS to assess the level of happiness of Latvian residents.

Raid reveals some taxi drivers in Riga do not have valid driver’s license

A raid was performed by the State Revenue Service and Riga Municipal Police to check taxi service providers in the capital. Authorities uncovered a total of 81 violations in 48 cases, BNN was informed by SRS.

Estonia sea ice crash: last missing body found

Nine days after a van with six people inside drove onto the ice of the Baltic Sea in south-western Estonia, the body of the last victim has been found.

Delna invites immediate investigation of claims about ABLV Bank’s money laundering schemes

The decision by US Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to apply sanctions against ABLV Bank for involvement in money laundering schemes and bribery of officials was not a surprise. It is a sign for acute need to continue improving investigative and supervisory institutions’ ability to prevent money laundering through Latvia, as noted by Delna – Society for Openness.

Estonian income tax should be simplified, parties believe

The existing income tax scheme in Estonia should be simplified, three parties in the Estonian Riigikogu find, but there are differences in opinion as to maintaining the current state budget income. Meanwhile, the opposition Reform Party has voiced backing for an annual tax-free income of 6,000 a year to every earner.

Baltics propose increasing member states’ contributions to EU budget after Brexit

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia invite European Union member states to increase contributions to the EU budget after 2020 in order to make sure available funds do not drop after UK’s exit.

Instagram obeys Russian internet censor to block content on corruption allegations

In the atmosphere of the March Russian presidential election, social network Instagram has submitted to the demands of Russia's internet censorship body and blocked in the country content with corruption claims voiced by Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Teenager charged with U.S. school shooting has confessed

A day after a tragic school shooting in Florida, the U.S., where 17 people have been killed, the suspect 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz has confessed to police.