09TBILISI717, GEORGIA: DIP CORPS TOURS TBILISI PRISON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI717 2009-04-13 13:15 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8391
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0717 1031315
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131315Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1369
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 000717 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DIP CORPS TOURS TBILISI PRISON 
 
1. (U) Summary and comment:  Minister of Corrections and Legal 
Assistance (MCLA) Dimitry Shashkin invited the diplomatic corps to 
visit Tbilisi's Gldani prison in order to assess the state of 
Georgia's prison system.  The Ambassador, along with multiple 
ambassadors, diplomats, and NGO representatives attended the March 
23 event.  Shashkin offered to open any door upon request, and 
answered any and all questions.  With the tour, Shashkin took a 
first step toward one of his key goals in implementing GOG 
democratic reforms.  The tour was a transparent look into an area of 
frequent criticism by many Western governments.  The prison appeared 
well maintained and professionally run.  Post has encouraged the 
government to continue prison reforms.  End summary and comment. 
 
2. (U) Gldani prison was completed in late 2007, and began 
operations in the spring of 2008.  It has a maximum capacity of 
4,000 inmates.  It currently houses around 3,000.  The prison holds 
both convicted felons as well as suspects being held on pre-trial 
detention in two large, separate cellblocks.  It is a 
maximum-security facility, and meets the most stringent standards in 
Georgia's penal system.  Three hundred total prison guards work at 
the prison, with around 100 working each shift.  Soldiers (non-MCLA) 
provide external security to the prison.  Shashkin said that at 
least seven prisons in Georgia currently need t be replaced.  He 
said five prisons are in good shape.  Currently, two more prisons 
are under construction, and two are in the design phase. 
 
PRISON CONDITIONS 
 
3. (SBU) The group first visited the camera room, which provides 
coverage of all public places in the prison, but not inside 
individual cells.  Meeting rooms (i.e. for lawyer-client 
conferences) are also covered by the cameras.  The diplomatic group 
also examined solitary confinement cells.  They consist of a small 
room with a bunk, in-floor toilet and sink.  Solitary inmates can 
leave their cells and walk in a secure area one hour per day.  In 
the remaining cellblocks, there are six inmates per cell.  All cells 
are secured with individual padlocks.  Inmates can smoke inside 
their cells, but not in public or recreation areas. 
 
4. (U) The kitchen is run by a Tbilisi-based restaurant group, which 
won a public tender to provide the service.  Meals are taken to 
inmates in their cells, as no public cafeteria exists.  One of the 
diplomats tried the lunch that was being prepared and said the food 
was good.  The prisoners receive three meals per day.  The food must 
meet the same standard as for Ministry of Defense troops.  The GOG 
spends 90 GEL per month (USD 54) per inmate on food.  Shashkin 
compared this to state pensions, which are currently 110 GEL (USD 
66) per month per pensioner. 
 
5. (U) Inmates are provided showers once per week.  The shower rooms 
are divided into six individual stalls and a common changing room. 
An encaged recreation area is located on the top of the cellblocks. 
Inmates can use the areas for a minimum of one hour per day; often 
more.  A small commissary exists, where inmates may buy additional 
snacks, food, or drinks, to supplement the prison's regimen.  No 
cash is transacted, as inmates use electronic purchase cards to 
which family members can add money.  Some inmates work in the prison 
laundry facilities.  They reside in a smaller, separate cellblock. 
Prisoners from throughout the system may volunteer for such duty. 
 
6. (U) The prison hospital can hold up to 250 patients.  All 
prisoners are screened for TB upon their arrival to the prison, and 
then upon request.  The hospital has modern diagnostic rooms and 
Qthen upon request.  The hospital has modern diagnostic rooms and 
trained medical staff.  Prisoners were undergoing treatment during 
the visit.  The prison has a separate hall for drug addicted 
inmates, where currently 47 inmates are residing and receiving 
treatment for addiction to heroin, subotex, and other drugs. 
Treatment consists of diminishing doses of methadone as well as 
counseling and medical care. 
 
7. (U) The prison also provides chaplains to meet with the inmates. 
Differing faiths, in addition to the Georgian Orthodox Church, are 
accommodated, including imams for Muslims.  Other considerations are 
provided as possible, including for religious diets or beliefs. 
 
TEFFT

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