Staunton, September 8 – The Russian justice ministry has prepared two draft laws that would reintroduce the use of forced labor for periods of two months up to five years as an alternative form of criminal punishment. By not incarcerating convicts, the state would save money on prisons. And it would even earn some money from the work of those convicted of crimes.
The Meduza portal reports that the draft measures would require an individual to live in a corrections center and work where he or she was told for two months to up to five years. Five to 20 percent of their pay would go to the state, and convicts would also repay victims and the state for their keep (meduza.io/cards/v-rossii-skoro-poyavyatsya-prinuditelnye-raboty-chto-eto).
The draft suggests that this form of punishment will be “much softer” than in a general regime colony because the prisoners will only be under supervision rather than under guard and because they will not have to wear prison clothes. Moreover, those who have served more than a third of their sentences with good behavior supposedly will be able to live where they please.
The draft also specifies that no law will specify that such forced labor be used in lieu of imprisonment. That will be up to judges, and it remains unclear how they will decide on this “softer” and for the state simultaneously less expensive and more profitable form of criminal punishment.
There is only one real problem, the Meduza portal points out. The Russian Constitution prohibits forced labor, but Russian labor law does allow it as an exception if it is the result of a court decision and takes place under government supervision. But the real reason for this innovation is about saving the government money and maybe even earning it a little.