Released inmates say jail life better than probation

Released inmates say jail life better than probation

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Released inmates say jail life better than probation

A released prisoner, 30-year-old Kadir Kartal (R) says he is obliged to sign in every day, but does not have money for his travel costs. Hürriyet photo

A new regulation allowing certain convicts to fulfill prison sentences through probation and community service rather than jail time has left many former inmates in a quagmire, causing them to incur new living expenses despite meager financial means.

“Trust me; prison conditions were better than this. At least [they] served us our soup, bread and baklava. We could go and see the doctor whenever we were afflicted with an ache. Now we are also going to become a burden on our families by working without pay or insurance,” said 57-year-old Nevzat Kaya.

Kaya served two and a half years behind bars on drug-related charges before authorities released prisoners who qualified for the new regulation. All the prisoners’ feet were injured because they had to walk to their homes on foot, Kaya said.

“The state is abetting us to commit crime in this way. We are obliged to give a signature every day, but how are we to do that when we cannot even find any money for travel costs?” said 30 year-old Kadir Kartal.

Kartal walked from his home in Istanbul’s Kazlıçeşme district to the Bakırköy Courthouse in Istanbul with his wife and infant daughter for the first day of his public service. Kartal served four months in Silivri Prison on the charge of causing injury and is set to serve out the remaining three months of his sentence through public service.

When in prison Ömer Yeşilyurt, 26, earned 800 Turkish Liras a month sewing scarves and making beads. Yeşilyurt said prison conditions were better than life on probation. “Where am I going to find money for my travel expenses every day? They released all these people, but apparently they will take them back in again as [they did] in 2005. They are inciting us to commit crime in this manner,” he said.