Inmates invoke coronavirus to get out of jail – judges don’t agree

Several inmates have used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to request parole and get out of jail before their terms are up. But invoking the crisis, without fulfilling other conditions established by the law, is not enough for parole, so the judges rejected their requests.

The inmates approached the problem from the point of view of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who drew attention to those currently in prisons, immigration sorting centers, senior care centers and psychiatric hospitals.

Popularized on many sites, this recommendation was used for publicly requesting the release of the former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Romania. But the tactic was taken over by other inmates as well.

Italy’s case

Among European countries, Italy was the only one to take measures for releasing some inmates due to the pandemic. Thus, approximately 376 mafia members and drug dealers were let out of prisons starting in March. They were placed under home arrest after authorities decided that inmates over the age of 70 could be released if they had health conditions that could make them vulnerable to the virus.

Alfonso Bonafede, the Minister of Justice of Italy, recently announced that these people will be returning to jail because of the public outrage caused by their release.

On the other hand, in Romania, many rights of inmates were suspended in the state of emergency, for example, the right to have visitors, the right to intimate visits and the right to receive packages; they can only go outside in the prison courtyard or be transferred to another location, with some exceptions.

“We are too many in the room”

One case of an inmate invoking the pandemic is Marian Cristian Pindaru. Jailed in Poarta Alba (Constanta) in a room with 23 other inmates, Pindaru invoked the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner to be released earlier.

“In the room, where he is locked, the recommendation of social distancing cannot be respected,” his lawyer explained.

Pindaru is serving a sentence of two years and ten months for driving a car without a permit. Although he has served enough time to be freed on parole, the courts of Constanta have rejected his request definitively.

Featured photo: rfi.ro

Author: Blanka Székely