Public Defender of Georgia Recommends Minister of Justice to Reassess Risks of Danger of Convict with Disabilities
The Public Defender's Office examined a case of a convict placed in Penitentiary Establishment No. 2 and found that the process of assessing the risks of danger of the convict contained significant violations. After the multidisciplinary team of the Penitentiary Service improperly and incompletely analyzed the case, the convict was identified as being at an increased risk of danger and was placed in a closed facility, which automatically led to additional restrictions on his certain rights.
It was found that when assessing the risk of danger, the multidisciplinary team paid special attention to the fact of disciplinary punishment of the convict and to the convict’s reluctance to participate in rehabilitation/resocialization programmes or to work.
The Public Defender's Office found that: 1. the convict had been encouraged three times during serving his sentence; 2. he had taken part in a specific programme of resocialization-rehabilitation and 3. he is a person with disabilities and uses a wheelchair, and considering the infrastructure of Penitentiary Establishment No. 2, it is impossible for persons with disabilities to be enrolled in the prison work programmes.
Thus, the risk assessment team failed to properly consider the factual circumstances. It did not take into account the special needs of persons with disabilities and used a criterion that put the convict with disabilities in an unequal position compared to other convicts. Consequently, since there was no objective or reasonable justification for similarly treating prisoners of substantially different statuses, the convict in question was subjected to a discriminatory approach.
In view of all the above, the Public Defender addressed the Minister of Justice and the Director of the Penitentiary Establishment No. 2 and requested to:
- Reassess the risks of the convict before the scheduled time
- Carry out disciplinary proceedings against the relevant authorized persons in relation to alleged improper performance of official duties
- Ensure that the risk assessment team considers the special needs of persons with disabilities in the future
The Public Defender will continue to monitor the activities of the risk assessment team and will use the legal mechanisms at her disposal in case of detection of similar violations.