Majority of released minors return to prison: Report
Erdinç Çelikkan - ANKARA
A majority of minors return to prison after being released, according to a report recently published by Turkey’s Institution of Human Rights and Equality (TİHEK).
The report, released after TİHEK officials’ visit to a juvenile prison in the Aegean province of İzmir, describes their observations and examinations of the prison and the inmates’ complaints within the context of national and international norms.
“In the institution [prison] visit, it has been understood through interviews conducted by the prison officials, personnel and those deprived of their freedom [children] that a majority of children who were released after being taken into custody or after serving their sentence have come back to the prison as they commit a crime again,” said the report.
Children who have families with high crime profiles, have low levels of education, and who live in neighborhoods where crime rates are high seem to be more inclined to break the law, the report said.
To prevent this from happening, institutions and organizations, primarily the Justice Ministry and Education Ministry, should work cooperatively to generate policies to observe the children’s mental and physical health, provide support to them and prevent them from re-committing crimes by bringing them into the society, the report added.
After a careful examination, observation and meeting process, TİHEK officials gave advice to the prison officials and the Justice Ministry.
The TİHEK report said the ages of inmates in the İzmir prison range from 12 to 22.
There are currently 125 convicted and 218 arrested inmates, reaching a total of 343 people in the prison. Some 13 of the inmates are aged between 12 and 15, some 308 are aged 15 to 18, and the remaining are aged between 18 and 21.
The prison board reportedly said they decide how to place the children in different units based on their age, gender, physical condition and the type of offense they committed.
386 investigations due to ‘misbehavior’
A total of 386 judicial investigations commenced within the past year by the prison officials due to quarrels, repression, bodily harm, letting forbidden materials into the institution and damaging public property. Following the investigations, more than 1,000 children were reported to judicial authorities.
Within the last five years, no complaints have been filed for torture and ill-treatment by the institution’s administration, it told the officials.
Normally in every cell, every inmate has access to a private bathroom, the report said. However, in the case of observation rooms, this is not the case.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture asserts that in cells there should be private toilets or access to exit the cell whenever in need on this matter, the report stressed.
Another pressing issue with observation rooms is the lack of security cameras. According to the report, this issue can make it difficult to find proof in the case of an alleged torture of ill-treatment.
The report asserts that the conditions of the committee must be met, suggesting that the 21 observation rooms should be re-designed taking the aforementioned issues into consideration.
As reported by TİHEK officials, inmates who are continuing their higher education are unable to pay their registry fees due to financial difficulties.
Everyone should be given the opportunity for education and be encouraged to higher education, the report stressed.
In the interviews, children told the TİHEK officials that having a criminal record added with incomplete education pushes them into “hopelessness.”