A detailed report on the team’s findings –
including the first independent report on the functioning of
alternative sanctions offices – will be publicized by the end of
The team’s basic observations are summarized in
the paragraphs below.
Valjevo Reformatory and Alternative Sanctions
(December 2-3, 2014)
At the time of the team’s monitoring the prison
kitchen, mess hall and one wing were under reconstruction.
Reconstruction of the Reformatory seriously damaged in the May 2014
floods is financed by the government of the Kingdom of Norway. The
floods had brought down both bridges providing access to the
Reformatory. So far only one of them had been repaired for free
movement of vehicles and people, while the other leading to the
detention ward is not operable yet. All the detainees had been
transferred to the Central Prison in Belgrade in May 2014.
The team found 260 prisoners under sentence on the
premises. None of them were juvenile offenders. Out of all younger
adults under sentence 14 were punished with juvenile prison. Out of
total number of prison population as much as 50 percent were
In 2014 the prison management took 342
disciplinary measures against prisoners – a rather big number when
compared with total prison population. Prisoners were usually
punished with solitary confinement, conditional confinement and ban
on getting family packages. In 2014 prisoners were punished with
total 964 days in solitary confinement.
Only one probation officers works full time in the
local Alternative Sanctions Office. Another one works for the
Reformatory and is engaged in the Office three days a week. The two
probation offers supervise 125 persons punished with alternative
sanctions – out of this number, 80 are punished with home
confinement and 36 with monitored detention with community work.
The Niš Penitentiary and Alternative Sanctions
(September 29-30, 2014)
The team observed some changes made in the prison
since its last visit, including better accommodation capacity. Some
pavilions that had been in extremely bad shape were reconstructed.
Now the prisoners in these pavilions have their dormitories freshly
painted, with new floors, windows and bed, and have access to
renovated toilets. Prisoners themselves have painted the interior of
the newly built church. Yet another pavilion is under
Although the prison management did its best to
improve conditions of prisoners’ lives, the institutions is still
plagued by many problems: the number of security officers was
reduced, the number of educators is inadequate, the same as
capacities for prisoners working engagement and training, too many
disciplinary measures are being taken against prisoners, etc. Too
many prisoners in the closed unit (1,256 on the day of the visit)
overstrain the prison staff to the detriment of adequate
organizational arrangement and prisoners’ rights.
Although the newly introduced institute of
prosecutorial investigation reduced the number of detainees, as many
as 95 prisoners awaiting trial were in detention on the day of the
The inspected records show that one third of
prisoners are persons with mental disabilities or drug addicts: 41
are with mental disabilities or psychiatric problems, 308 are drug
addicts and 84 alcoholics.
The Niš Alternative Sanctions Office has been
working for almost a year. The team takes it should be more
independent to function better, and better staffed with qualified
probation officers engaged on full-time basis.
The Sremska Mitrovica Penitentiary and
Alternative Sanctions Office
The state invested very little in the prison over
the past year. Many pavilions and premises are still far from being
fit to humane imprisonment.
The prison is still overcrowded: the team found
2,048 prisoners on its premises whereas the prison can accommodate
maximum 1,300 persons. The institution is still under big pressure
from newcomers – for instance, the team found 129 persons in the
admission department with accommodation capacity of 96. Many of
newly admitted prisoners are kept in the department for more than 30
days – as provided under the law – waiting for a “vacancy.” As many
as 89 prisoners are awaiting trial.
The number of security officers is inadequate.
Social rehabilitation groups are too big to be efficient. Few
educators cannot meet the needs of 70 percent of prisoners serving
their sentence in the closed ward.
The local Alternative Sanctions Office was opened
about a year ago. Only one probation officer is engaged on full-time
basis, while his three colleagues from the Sremska Mitrovica
Penitentiary are engaged on contractual basis. At the time of the
team’s visit the Office was in charge of 68 persons under sentence.
Women’s Prison in Požarevac
(November 19, 2014)
Accommodation capacities have been neither adapted
nor reconstructed since 2013: the prison still waits the approval of
its “big renovation project.” According to the planned project
accommodation capacity should increase from 170 to 350. According to
the prison manager, about 50 percent of prison population is
recidivists (251 at present). Prison work is inadequate. The manager
says that some 100 women are presently engaged in prison work
(sewing, gardening, cleaning, etc.)
Women prisoners in the closed ward are not engaged
in prison work. Out of 53 disciplinary measures taken in 2014 as
many as 38 women prisoners were punished with solitary confinement.
The number of officers in all services is
constantly on the downward curve.
The Zabela Prison and Alternative Sanctions
Office in Požarevac
(November 20, 2014)
Accommodation has been somewhat improved since
2013 (dormitories were whitewashed, bathrooms renovated in some
pavilions and the like).
The number of prisoners grew from 1,459 to 1,584.
Consequently, there are more prisoners allocated to the
high-security ward: from 1,150 in 2013 to 1,261.
Prison work is inadequate – only 30 percent of
total prison population is engaged in some occupational activity.
According to the prison manager, prisoners are not motivated for
work and there are not enough “workplaces.”
The detention unit is beyond the prison premises.
It accommodates prisoners sentenced from misdemeanor, who are
physically separated from prisoners awaiting trial. This year, says
the prison manager, the number of detainees was dramatically reduced
– from 100 to only 19. Living conditions have been improved in the
past two years: dormitories were freshly painted and equipped with
new beds and lockers. Prisoners awaiting trial are kept in the unit
for four months on the average. However, some have been detained for
more than a year now.
Only one probation officer is engaged on full-time
basis in the Alternative Sanctions Office. Two other come from the
Zabela Prison and work part-time. At the time of the team’s visit
the probation officers was in charge of 44 persons under alternative