Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

aleksanteri [at]

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Judith Pallot, University of Oxford, UK

The role of the Russian Penal System in reproducing social and geographical marginalisation

In my lecture I will discuss the dimension of inequality and exclusion in Russia connected to the operation of the country’s penal system. I will draw on research that I have been engaged in for the past decade on the Russian prison system.  A recurring theme that has surfaced in this research has been the ‘double isolation’ to which offenders are subject when convicted to custodial sentences: the intense isolation from society imposed by the regime of most correctional institutions and the location of these institutions in remote places.  Effectively, the Russian prison system at the present time condemns Russia vulnerable and marginal members of society to some of the most marginal places in the country.  Meanwhile, a combination of serious policy failures and corruption have meant that programmes on paper are designed to ensure the health and safety of prisoners and equip them with the skills and resources necessary for successful re-entry to society, are rarely implemented. In my talk I will discuss how Russian penal colonies have become sites of the reproduction of social and geographical marginality, with reference in particular to women prisoners, HIV-positive prisoners and the homeless.