Report on the visit to the Center for Preventive Arrest and Detention attached to the Prahova County Police Inspectorate

04.04.2014
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On April 4, 2014, representatives of APADOR-CH and RHRN visited the Center for Preventive Arrest and detention (CPAD) in Prahova County.

The facility was located in the semi-basement of the Câmpina city police, and was the only one in the county (functioning since December 2005). All detainees had to be transferred between Câmpina and Ploiești for court hearings, medical exams, etc. (according to the chief of the facility, transportation expenses for nine years would have covered the costs of a new building in Ploiești. The Prahova Police Inspectorate does plan to have such a facility built on the grounds of a former military base).

The average duration of stay at the facility was one month-one month and a half (the legal maximum is 180 days).

The 34 place facility held, at the time of the visit, 20 detainees (18 on preventive arrest and two convicted felons, all male) in six rooms (five six-bed rooms and one four bed room), separated for smokers and non-smokers. The rooms measured about 18-20 m2.

APADOR-CH points out that detention space per person was below the 4 square meter standard; rooms would have been overcrowded if all beds were occupied (the resulting space being about 3.5 sq. m per detainee). Police custody facilities still use the old standard, of 6 cubic meters per detainee, although the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) insisted, in its 2010 report on Romania, that they should observe the 4 sq. m norm.

  • 1. Population, detention space, hygiene, food

 

The staff of the facility included 28 agents (the chief of the facility, four shift managers, three drivers, 20 security agents).

The admission procedure for new arrivals included a medical examination at the Ploiești hospitals. If detainees were brought in during the night, they were taken for a medical exam at the local emergency room.

A small, clean room hosted the hairdressing shop, but detainees complained they were unable to have a haircut. Their requests were denied because, among other things, the electric hair trimmer was broken. Detainees were also not allowed to keep electric hair trimmers in their rooms.

 

Each room had a Turkish toilet. In each room, the hole had to be covered with a water-filled plastic bottle to prevent the stench and rats from coming in. The sanitization of the toilets must be done immediately. The lavatory was separated from the rest of the room by a piece of cloth nailed to the wall. The rooms had no furniture, so that personal belongings were kept on the floor (under the bed), in plastic bags.

Detainees bought their own cleaning materials and cleaned the room themselves. One of them said that he received no toilet paper or soap (he had been detained for 36 days), only bedding, which he didn’t use because it smelled bad. The mattresses were visibly worn, thin and broken. The two associations point out  that new bedding is necessary.

Detainees were able to take a shower twice a week. The shower room had old installations and taps and smelled unpleasantly. Detainees washed their clothes at the shower because they had no access to the washing machine, used only for bed clothes. There were no TV sets in detention rooms. There could not be, since there were no electric sockets either, and the only electric appliances used by detainees were on batteries.

On the other hand, there was:

  • A permanently lit electric bulb (when used to artificial light, one gets dizzy in contact with natural light); APADOR-CH and RHRN point out that it is mandatory to provide natural lighting to detention places. Permanent artificial lighting may damage the sight and the Police is directly responsible for the health of persons under its custody. For all these reasons, we consider that light must be turned off during the night and decent lighting must be provided during the day.
  • Video camera installed next to the light bulb, permanently turned on. According to the staff of the facility, video cameras are „useful for the protection of detainees”. They were installed after „a detainee died after being injured by a room-mate” in 2001. APADOR-CH and RHRN deem the presence of video cameras in detention rooms an unacceptable breach of the right to intimacy of detainees and ask that the devices be removed;
  • Loudspeaker turned on from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (detainees cannot change the radio channel or turn it lower, being forced to listen throughout the day to a radio program chosen by the staff). Each room must be provided with a loudspeaker switch that detainees may use.
  • Permanently open window – not clear if only during the daytime or also at night (under one door, newspapers were jammed to stop the air draft).
  • Very thick window bars, completely blocking the light into the semi-basement facility.

A generalized practice in Centers for preventive arrest and detention is for the staff to do the shopping for inmates, but this was not the case at the Câmpina facility, where a system was found that avoided suspicions and an unhealthy relation of dependence between detainees and the staff.

Shopping was provided by a company that bought whatever was written in the lists collected by the staff and delivered the items to the facility. At the time of the visit, several shopping bags waited to be distributed; each had a fiscal receipt next to the shopping list provided by the detainee. The two associations commend the solution and consider it a model of good practice, to be shared with other detention facilities. Each detainee was allowed to spend a maximum of 400 RON per month.

Food was provided by the Police School in Câmpina (on the day of the visit, it had not been delivered by 2:30 p.m., rather late for lunch). Detainees said that lunch was good. The kitchen was equipped with three fridges and a washing machine, but detainees only had access to the fridges.

2. Medical care

A medical office (created in March 2014) provided service from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., when a nurse was present. The doctor only came in if there were requests for examination. The medical office did not have an emergency kit containing medical supplies or drugs. Except for the occasional exam, the office only provided the regular medication for those under treatment.

Detainees complained about the quality of the medical care (they were examined „with the eyes”; in the record book, many of the consultations mentioned „medical education”, meaning that detainees were merely informed about their prescribed treatment).

A young man, A.M., serving time for drug dealing (convicted Article 16 of Law no. 143/2000) took „light calming medication” every day (three drugs, among which Alprazolam and Zolpidem, according to the nurse). He was not aware that he could request psychological counseling.

The same young man said that he was sent to hospital for a specialist exam one week after requesting assistance and received his medication two days after the psychiatrist wrote him a prescription with the adequate treatment. The two associations consider that delaying treatment for 10 days in the case of a psychiatric patient was unacceptable, given the possible medical consequences.

 3. Activities

A „social interaction” room had been prepared at the facility. It was furnished with a table and two chairs and was used as file storage room, not as an activity club for detainees.

The two small courtyards – one about 4 sq. m large and one 2-3 sq. m – were covered in Plexiglas sheets. They were used for outings lasting 30-60 minutes per day.

4. Correspondence and visitation

A glass pane separated the payphone from the supervisor’s office. Detainees were allowed 10 minutes of phone calls per week. The Romtelecom prepaid cards were no longer available on the market, meaning that detainees had a drastically limited right to communicate with the outside, as long as they were in the impossibility to purchase phone cards. The supervisor stood in the immediate proximity of detainees while they met their attorneys, meaning that the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality was not observed. The situation was similar in the case of private, family conversations.

Envelopes were provided for detainees who wanted to send mail and could not afford it.

Interior regulations provided that both outgoing and incoming mail was to be recorded, with sender, recipient address and date of expenditure/arrival. The signatory associations consider that keeping track of sent mail is a limitation of the right to correspondence.

The visitation room (measuring about 10 sq. m) had two tables and a few chairs. There was no window or other separator, so the supervisor had to be present during the visits (30 minutes per week). This was an obvious breach of confidentiality. APADOR-CH and RHRN ask CPAD Câmpina to provide detainees and their visitors a proper space where supervision may be exclusively visual (the agents must keep at a distance where they may see but not hear what is being said).

 Detainees were not present when their parcels arrived. Parcels were received in a different room and brought to the recipient after having been open and checked by the staff. In order to avoid possible suspicion, APADOR-CH and RHRN ask CRAP Câmpina that parcels be open and checked in the presence of both the visitor who brought it and the detainee who must receive it, as it happens throughout the penitentiary system.

5. Discussion with detainees

The representatives of the associations visited rooms 1 and 4. Information on facility regulations and on Law no. 275/2006 (abrogated) was posted on the door. Detainees complained that upon arrival they were made to sign some printed forms in a hurry, without reading what they contained: basically an abrogated piece of legislation (Law no.275/2006) and about five sheets of rights that they were not actually aware of. The staff explained that they had not updated the arrival information kit to include the new law on the execution of custodial sentences because they waited for the new regulations. Until then, detainees had to sign that they had been informed about a law no longer in effect.

Conclusions:

1. APADOR-CH and RHRN urge that video surveillance devices be removed from detention rooms. Their presence is a blatant violation of the right to privacy that needs to be observed even for persons who are deprived of freedom.

2. The associations ask for effective measures to ensure the right to confidentiality during meetings between detainees and their legal counsels, as well as for mail and phone calls.  The visitation room must be urgently refurbished so as to allow exclusively visual supervision.

3. The posters providing information of outdated legislation must be replaced and the information kit distributed upon arrival must be updated. Detainees must be given sufficient time to read the list of rights they are asked to sign.

Dragoş Roşca                                                                                      Nicoleta Popescu

RHRN                                                                                                 APADOR-CH