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Years-long accumulated bank loans - problem of the convicted people

16.04.2018

 
Natia Gogolashvili

The story of one of the convicted women, serving her term in the penitentiary establishment # 5 of the Ministry of Corrections, reminded us of the problem of the convicted people in general, who complain about years-accumulated bank loans and fines. 

“One of our beneficiaries, whom we provide with free legal aid, does not have a family and is registered in the data base of the socially vulnerable individuals. Before being placed in prison, she had taken a loan of 500 GEL from bank and during years, her loan reached 42 000 GEL. The convicted person is under full responsibility of the state and the state is taking care of her/him. The convicted people do not have income and cannot pay monthly installments, for what the bank imposes fines on them. Considering the fact that those people spend several years in prison, monthly fines finally make up huge sums, which they cannot pay. A person, who leaves a prison, meets up huge debts instead the opportunity to start a new life,” HRC lawyer Nestan Londaridze.

In 2017, the Parliament of Georgia reviewed the legislative proposal of the Human Rights Center. The HRC proposed the legislators to stop accumulation of installments and fines on the bank loans for the convicted persons. The members of the Parliamentary Committee for Legal Issues liked the initiative but requested to propose concrete categories of the convicted persons, who will become subjects of the amendments.

“The MPs requested to make additional clarifications into the issue – whether all prisoners should become subjects of the amendment or only vulnerable groups will enjoy the benefit. Whether it was better to apply the changes only to those convicts, who are registered in the data base of the vulnerable persons. However, it may originate another problem – the prisoners, who do not have families, lose social benefits after being placed in prison as the status of socially vulnerable person is granted based on repeated examination of the family. As a rule, the citizens lose this status after they get in prison. The state is taking care of them during imprisonment. Besides that, there is category of prisoners, who is employed in prison and has some income. This can be evaluated as best example because they have minimal income to pay the monthly installments,” Nestan Londaridze said.

She added that Human Rights Center continues working on this issue and is preparing a new legislative proposal, which will envisage the last-year suggestions of the MPs. 

“A person, when he/she leaves penitentiary establishment, shall be encouraged to start a new life. She/he should wish to get a job and integrate into the society. Now, a person leaves establishment and faces enormous debt. With it, we discourage him/her to get employed or integrate in the society. As soon as he gets a job, his salary account will be immediately frozen because of the debt. Consequently, he does not want to work. If a person does not want to work, we push him again back to street, from where there is only one step to the prison. We should change this practice,” Nestan Londaridze said. 

The article was prepared in the frame of the project – “Monitoring Conditions of Juvenile and Female Prisoners in Georgian Penitentiary”, which is implemented by Human Rights Center with the Bulgarian Development Aid through the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Georgia. The views in the article does not necessarily express the views of the donor and it is responsible for the content of the article. 

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