An assembly of the Council of Europe committee on the role of public organizations in reforming the Russian penal system took place in Saratov yesterday. Russian Deputy Justice Minister Yuri Kalinin took part at the meeting as well as Hans Jurgen Bartsch, head of the Council of Europe department for crime and Governor of the Saratov Region Dmitri Ayatskov.
Mr Kalinin said that Russian prisons are comfortable, and not overcrowded. After amendments to the criminal code last year about 100 thousand people have been released from prison. If the State Duma makes further amendments then it could mean the release of another 240 prisoners. 'Prison is a unique institution where every inmate can receive an education and learn a profession,' Mr Kalinin said. Public organizations must help prisoners adapt to normal life after their release from prison, he said.