Russia to release scores of inmates


Massive changes in Russian criminal policy will soon transfer about 350,000 convicts from jail to the streets, the largest exodus of prisoners since the Gulag camps were emptied post-Stalin in the 1950s, according to IN THESE TIMES.

Recent Must Reads

1/31 – Genes aren’t colorblind

1/30 – Gay TV shoved back in closet

1/27 – Feds massively overstate anti-drug spending

1/26 – On environment, AAA gets an F

The new law, slated to be launched in coming months, will effect one-third of Russia’s million-plus inmates by changing limits on pretrial detention, reducing sentences for petty crime, and expanding the probation system. It represents the first serious attempt to address the brutality and poor conditions of their prison system, which are symptoms of overcrowding.

But one-tenth of Russia’s inmates have tuberculosis, and AIDS is spreading rapidly due to increased heroin addiction among prisoners, so human rights groups are skeptical that a large amnesty will do more than alleviate the population problem, pointing to the high potential for homelessness on the streets and continued inmate abuse behind bars.

WE DON'T KNOW

What's going to happen next as the headlines grow crazier and more disconcerting by the day. But we do know the job of an independent, unrelenting press is more important than ever—and the ongoing commitment of MoJo readers to fight for a democracy where facts matter and all can participate is absolutely vital.

If you feel the urgency deep in your bones like we do, please consider signing up as a monthly donor during our fall pledge drive to support Mother Jones' fair and fearless reporting for the long haul (or make a one-time gift if that works better for you). The headlines may fade, but the need to investigate the powerful never will.