Suspects awaiting trial in a Kyiv-based detention center could spend the new year in new jail cells. Ukrainian Justice Ministry invested nearly $2,390 to remove mold from the cell’s walls, to paint them, and put new pillows and mattresses on bunk beds.
The money to renovate cells like the one in the pre-trial detention center in Kyiv came from pay-to-stay cells the ministry introduced earlier in May. Over the last six months, Ukraine has collected over $70,300 from paid cells in holding centers in 21 Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhya, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Sumy, Poltava, Zhytomyr, Lutsk, Khmelnytsky, Chernivtsi, and Vinnytsia, Justice Minister Denys Malyuska said on Jan.4.
As of December 2020, the Kyiv-based pretrial detention center collected the most from paid cells — $40,000, followed by the detention centers in Odesa, Poltava, and Lviv.
One day in the more luxurious cell in Kyiv costs $72. It offers different benefits for the incarcerated, including improved hygiene, three square meals a day, hourly guards, and central city location, according to Malyuska.
He said that such cells existed before in Ukraine but entailed bribes. In 2020, the ministry turned them into a “wonderful anti-corruption measure,” since the money paid went to the state budget and helped renovate other pretrial detention centers.
Ukrainian prisons need these renovations because the country has one of the worst prison conditions in Europe, according to the report by the Social Communications Research Center. What in Ukraine is now called “comfort” paid cell, in European countries is just an ordinary one for which inmates don’t pay anything, Malyuska said in the interview with the Kyiv Post earlier in August.
Ukraine has the highest number of prisoners per capita among European countries — 125 per 100,000 residents. And 40% of them are staying in overcrowded pre-trial detention centers where they await transfer to prison. At these centers, prisoners can’t see family or friends, they also don’t know which prison they are going to.
Sometimes they spend years there while waiting for a court verdict, according to the department on the execution of criminal penalties of Ukraine.
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