Contributor(s)APADOR-CH (The Helsinki Committee) and Prison Insider
Contact with the outside world
Contact with the outside world
Inmates are allowed to receive visitors (art 68 of Law 254/2013). Family and friends can arrange visits to the prison only by email or telephone appointment. Each prison has a dedicated e-mail address and telephone number for visiter appointments. The number of visits allowed may vary according to the type of imprisonment. For semi-open detainees, it is limited to a visit per week, for closed regime, three visits per month and for maximum security detainees, two visits per month. Visit lengths vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Addresses, phone numbers, fax number and email addresses of all prisons can be found on the NAP website here.
There are around five visiting cabins per prison. In Targu Jiu prison for example, a cabin is dedicated to lawyers, another has internet facilities for online visits, another is dedicated to family visits with children (thus equipped with sofa, toys and a curtain for privacy). In Colibasi prison, the rooms dedicated to visits are extremely cold.
In Târgsor women’s prison, the prison’s remote location makes it very difficult for some families to visit because of travel and accommodation costs.
In 2015, according to the NAP, 2,481 inmates were allowed to leave prison for a period of 24 hours.
Since Romania entered the European Union in 2007, one of the biggest reforms has been the introduction of conjugal visit rights. These are increasing with 10,779 visits in 2015. Conjugal rooms are clean and well equipped. There is sometimes a TV and a mini-fridge depending on the prison’s budget and the frequency of the visits. A visit of two hours is allowed every three months and needs to involve a proven partner. If a detainee gets married while in prison, he or she can use the room for 48 hours as a type of honeymoon“ said Cosmin Bumbut in his 2015 photography project called “the intimate room”.
Discover Cosmin Bumbut’s portfolio and a presentation of his photographic work in our website.
APADOR-CH noticed during its January 2016’s visit of Codlea prison that two rooms properly equipped are available for intimate visits but without condoms. In Colibasi prison, there is no heating in the intimate room during wintertime1.
Inmates can use phones located in the hallways and courtyards. Cell phones are forbidden. Phones in prisons work with individual phone cards, which the prisoner has to top up. Maximum security and closed regime have 30 minutes a day and semi-open regime and open-regime have 60 minutes a day.
Calls can be made to a pre-approved list of 10 numbers. In Targu Jiu prison, in 2016, a detainee complained that it was difficult to change numbers on the list, as approvals are only granted on the 1st and 15th of each month1. The phone is not available after 6.30pm, making it difficult for the detainees to contact their families after working hours.
Detainees can send out letters according to art 63-65 of Law 254/2013. The letters received by prisoners are recorded and opened in the presence of supervisors.
Detainees can also access online communication with family members according to art 66 or law 25/2013. Colibasi prison is experimenting this system. Not many prison facilities have the appropriate equipment. In the period April-December 2015, 1,734 requests for online access were approved.
Once detainees have completed two thirds of a sentence not exceeding 10 years imprisonment, or three quarters of a sentence not exceeding 20 years they can apply for early conditional release. For parole, the rules are similar but detainees must have served the sentence in an open or semi-open regime and have a good behavior record demonstrating that they can reintegrate in society (art 100, criminal code).
With life sentences, a detainee can be released on parole after serving 20 years, if he/she is consistent at work, well disciplined and shows serious improvement, while also taking into account his/her criminal record (art 55).
A detainee can have their sentence interrupted for medical and pregnancy reasons. According to the National Administration of Penitentiaries, in 2015, 48 persons were released for such reasons.
National preventive mechanism (NPM)
Romania ratified the OPCAT on the 23rd of March 2009. It was allowed to further delay the designation of its NPM for an additional two-year period after the initial three years postponement period. The legislative process to designate the Romanian ombudsman as NPM was completed on 6th January 2015. The Parliament adopted a law approving the Government Ordonnance designating the People’s Advocate as the Romanian NPM and amending its founding legislation accordingly.
The Ombudsman is independent from the government. He has the mission to receive all the complaints of the citizens against the administration’s abuses and excesses, to investigate, to make inquiries and to intercede with the authorities.