When delving into the Wikileaks Cablegate file sometimes the mind boggles – both at cable content and the little asides.
So we find that one diplomat opines that on average men are likely to live longer in Russia if they are in prison and, that America locks up more people as a percentage of its own population than any other nation on earth and half of those re-offend.
Full cable transcript can be found here
C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000531O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV TBIO RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN PRISONS
REF: A. 07 MOSCOW 4543 Â¶B. MOSCOW 325 Â¶C. MOSCOW 378
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns for reason 1.4(d).
Â¶1. (C) Summary: The Russian prison system combines the country's emblematic features - vast distances, harsh climate, and an uncaring bureaucracy - and fuses them into a massive instrument of punishment. Russia imprisons a greater portion of its population than almost any other country in the world (second only to the U.S.). In contrast to other Western countries, the system is foremost focused on punishment, not rehabilitation, and while statisics are difficult to compare, produces a lower rate of recidivism. Recent prison riots, new prisoner shock tactics, and smuggled videos of prison mistreatment have highlighted the cruelties and corruption in the system. Health conditions in Russian prisons are poor and infection rates for contagious diseases are much higher than in the general population, but surprisingly the mortality rate for men in these prisons is only one-third the rate on the outside - a statistic that says much more about the dangers of alcoholism and road safety than it does about healthy living behind bars. Reports of abuses in the prison system have been answered with calls for reform, most recently in the Human Rights Ombudsman's annual report and by the President's Human Rights Council. While NGO activists such as the embattled Lev Ponomarev praise the work of Lukin, the insurmountable challenges posed by the physical and cultural nature of the prison system mean that efforts to improve conditions or to alter the character of the system from punishment to rehabilitation are likely to produce only superficial improvements. End summary......
Â¶6. (U) According to FSIN statistics, as of July, there were approximately 889,600 people in the custody of the criminal justice system, including 63,000 women and 12,100 juveniles. This rate of 630 prisoners per 100,000 citizens is second in the world only to the United States (702 per 100,000)......
Â¶11. (U) According to Sergeyeva, the recidivism rate in Russiais only 36 percent (compared to more than 50 percent in the United States or the United Kingdom).