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Get out of jail card: Russia plans penal work option for prisoners with non-felony convictions

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The Russian government is considering legislation which will allow those convicted of offences which do not constitute a felony to work instead of serving out their sentence in prison.

The bill, that has been introduced in the State Duma, seeks to reduce the minimal term after which inmates can be let out early to do penal work. Under the current law, a prisoner must serve no less than a third of the sentence before release.

Under the proposal, obligatory time in prison will be reduced to a quarter of the term. If adopted, the law, planned to be introduced in 2019, will apply to non-felony convictions.

The step is reportedly in response to the need to build more correctional institutions. It is also meant to employ convicts and maintain prisons and correctional facilities from money deducted from their earnings during the prison term. At present, there are 23 correctional centers in Russia. By 2019, that number is expected to triple.

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