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877,000 benefit from Russian amnesty

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February 28, 2001 

  

MOSCOW-(AP) - About 877,000 people benefited from an amnesty Russia granted last year to convicts and people facing criminal charges, the Prosecutor General's Office said Tuesday.


Parliament regularly passes amnesties for people convicted of or charged with minor crimes in an effort to relieve overcrowding in prisons and pretrial detention centers. Russia has more than 900,000 people behind bars, one of the world's highest incarceration rates. Many jails are incubators for disease and are so packed that prisoners have to sleep in shifts.


Last year's amnesty, which was in force from the end of June to the end of November, freed 206,200 convicts, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.


Another 466,906 people who were convicted of crimes but were not imprisoned - those given a suspended sentence or put on probation - benefited from the amnesty. Ongoing investigations against 143,497 people were dropped, the statement said.


Few of those amnestied came from pretrial detention centers, which officials say are the most plagued by overcrowding. A spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry department in charge of prisons said 42,585 people had been freed from pretrial detention.


The prosecutor's office said that of the 877,000 people amnestied, 12,237 had committed crimes again.



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