Romania’s Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, December 4, voted a bill to repeal the law on the so-called “compensatory appeal”, enforced in 2017, based on which thousands of convicts have been released from local prisons before serving their full sentences, due to improper detention conditions. The bill will go to president Klaus Iohannis for promulgation.
The bill passed with 272 votes for and 5 abstentions. At the beginning of the debate on this bill, Liberal MP Florin Roman said the “compensatory appeal” was the most harmful law in the last 30 years, allowing the early release of more than 21,000 convicts, according to Hotnews.ro.
“We have reached a frightening situation today - 22,000 detainees have been released from prisons earlier, of which 7,000 were criminals, rapists, robbers. Out of them, 500 left prison and committed crimes, rapes, robberies again. (...) I invite you all to stop this madness at once,” Roman said. He added that had this bill been voted in February, when the Liberals initiated it, it would have prevented 10,000 convicts to get out of jail.
The bill was initiated by the National Liberal Party (PNL) in February this year but a final vote on it has been postponed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which adopted the initial law on compensatory appeal in 2017. After PNL removed PSD from power, the new Liberal Government said it would pass the bill through Parliament by taking responsibility for it and thus avoid a vote.
However, after losing the presidential elections in November, the PSD decided to quickly pass several laws that it previously delayed in the Parliament. PSD is the biggest party in Romania’s Parliament, only a few votes short of a majority, which is why it is very difficult to pass any laws without its support.
Close to 23,000 detainees were released from Romanian prisons from October 19, 2017, when the “compensatory appeal” law came into force, until December 3, 2019. About 4,000 were released after serving full sentences and close to 19,000 were released on parole. In the same period, about 2,300 former convicts returned to prison, the National Administration of Penitentiaries (ANP) said in a response to Hotnews.ro. However, not all of the 2,300 who returned to jail committed new crimes after their release, some had prior trials ongoing when they were released.
Romania’s Parliament adopted the “compensatory appeal” law after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a pilot decision against Romania for improper detention conditions, asking the Romanian authorities to find solutions for the problem of overcrowded prisons. Before that pilot decision, several dozen convicts received money compensations at ECHR for improper detention conditions.
According to the “compensatory appeal” law, detainees held in improper conditions received a 20% reduction of their sentences (six days for every 30 days spent in overcrowded cells).
(Photo source: ID 15754462 © Tatagatta | Dreamstime.com)