How Can the Parole System Be Improved in Armenia?
The parole system in Armenia does not operate efficiently and requires serious changes, representatives of the Civil Society Institute Arman Danielyan and Anna Melikyan believe.

Hovhannes Margaryan, Senior Specialist at the Social, Psychological and Legal Department at the Ministry of Justice, said though changes are necessary, it does not mean the system does not work at all.

“Currently, the number of convicts granted parole makes about five percent only. In 2013 226 convicts were granted parole, with 184 in 2014. There are no positive changes though we are continually told about a bill which will soon make some shifts,” said Arman Danielyan.

The three-level system of parole involving the administration of penitentiary institutions, independent committee and court needs improvement. The current system which was two-level until 2006 led to a dramatic decrease of the number of convicts granted parole. The decision of the independent committee cannot be appealed and there are no distinct guiding criteria. Do they vote their inner voice?” Danielyan said.

Anna Melikyan, lawyer of the Civil Society Institute, said the majority of actions filed concern the parole system.

“We are concerned over the decision making mechanism and current model. Sometimes a convict is released but the Prosecutor’s Office appeals the ruling and states the independent committee, prison administration and court have made a wrong decision.”

Convicts usually have disciplinary penalties, which makes it impossible to grant parole, Hovhannes Margaryan said.

3460 convicts applied for parole out of which 486 applications were submitted to the independent commission in 2015.

“I do not insist that the correction program is efficient but it has its impact. Every three months a convict’s behavior is estimated and a character of a convict is written,” Margaryan said.

Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator

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