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KANAT ATKAYA >Radios for minors in prison

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A child in prison, Alican, actually had quite a simple request. He only wanted some kind of sound because he had no sound other than his own voice in prison. He wanted to listen to music. 

We were able to hear 12-year-old Alican’s voice through Zafer Kıraç, the founding member of the Civil Society in the Penal System Foundation (CİİST). 

Kıraç visited a minors’ prison upon complaints and explained the situation as such: 

“While our inspections were ongoing, when Alican saw us, the civilians, he ran to us and started crying, ‘Please save me. I don’t want to stay here.’ They took him to his ward. I followed him. The glass was broken in the ward. I asked how [the glass was broken and] he told me he broke the glass with his head. ‘There is nothing to do here. I cannot talk to anybody. Take me away from here.’ We told Alican we cannot do that but he can ask [for] something else from us. He did not hesitate before saying, ‘I want a sound; I want to listen to music.’”

When the prison administration was notified, they replied that a radio could be bought. Upon this the association bought five radios and sent them to the children.  

Now, the matter should be resolved there, right? Well, the radios were sent back to the association 15 days later. The reason was that according to the prison administration, the children would not be able to pay the electricity these radios would consume…

A regulation states that the inmates have to pay for the extra electricity they consume, thus the administration was doing the correct thing.

But, is this practice correct in terms of conscience? 

There is a system where arrested children, if they don’t have money, cannot send the letters they have written, can’t drink tea, cannot make phone calls. The association made a call earlier that the arrested kids should be able to send four letters a month free of charge, but this call was in vain. 

There are 2,480 minors in jail currently. Because of a lack of facilities, a portion of these minors, incomprehensibly, have to stay together with grownups – they say this figure is one-third. 

A significant segment of these minors are in jail for small mistakes, petty crimes, but they have to share facilities with grownups. 

That being the case, is there any logic in returning a radio on grounds that they cannot pay the electricity bill?

I hope Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ makes a genuine effort to change this merciless stance. Otherwise, they can publicize a bank account number and volunteers like me can pay for the electricity bill of these radios. 
This is a pity, it is a shame. 

Kıraç said, because of the oppression within the correction facility, when these kids are released they commit crimes again. “Alican is only one [of] these kids. He is now free but he says, ‘I will go back anyway.’ If we want to reintegrate them into society, serious steps should be taken…”

A radio would not change everything indeed, I know that, but banning a radio with the excuse of the electricity bill should have no defendable aspect …

June/03/2016

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