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Convicted to fasting and prayer2010-03-15 09:51
Georgian authorities have long been cooperating with the Orthodox Church in rehabilitation of criminals. The convicts on minor crimes are sent to work in monasteries. Well, it is good for one's soul and beneficial to the state: since the Rose Revolution Georgian prisons have been overloaded despite amnesties and pardons.
From now on prosecutors, supervisors and monks will rehabilitate Georgian criminals together. Today the Patriarchate, the Prosecutor General's office and ministry for penitentiary, probation and legal assistance signed a partnership memorandum allowing Orthodox convicts to serve their sentence in monasteries.
"Signature of the memorandum is important to turn a prison term into socially useful labor", - Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, minister for penitentiary commented.
"We mean churches and monasteries where construction and other works are underway, where people can be useful working for the society", - Teodor, metropolitan of Akhaltsikhi and Taoklargeti added.
If France had thought about it, Jean Marie Delarue, the general controller, would not complain that convicts suffer from boredom and idleness even in comfortable prisons.
In Georgia the church has been cooperating with prisons for a few years already. Annual agreements are signed with the government to employ prisoners in socially useful works in churches and monasteries.
Last December, for instance, the delinquents registered in Imereti bureau of probation, took part in construction of a monastery in Kharagauli. 12 probationers, as conditionally sentenced persons are called in Georgia, displayed willingness to take part in construction works, Georgian media report.
On the whole people in Georgia favor spiritual rehabilitation of criminals. However last September Georgian opposition condemned transfer of Sandro Girgviliani's murderers from prison to a monastery upon the Patriarch's blessing. Ex Interior Ministry officers whose abuse of power led to the death of a young bank clerk had hardly done half their sentence. Despite public reaction over the case the policemen were included in the list of 388 lucky men whose prison sentence was replaced by non-prison punishment.
Except for the Church there are culture institutions involved in rehabilitation of criminals in Georgia. In February it was the Academy of Arts that signed a similar partnership memorandum with the penitentiary authority with an eye to reintegrate the convicts into the society, prevent crimes and popularize art in penitentiary institutions. The memorandum also helps attract prisoners to various restoration works.