The Baltic countries has the largest prisoners population in the European Union. They have twice as much prisoners as an EU average. Society believes that locking them up serves them right and does not realize that the prison system with the violence and the Soviet-era traditions is a crime academy, not a place of reformation.
Prisons in Latvia and Estonia
The series "Imprisoned in the Baltics" were possible due to the support of Sigrid Rausing Trust and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Latvia. Authors of the project: Inga Springe (Latvia), Odita Krenberga (Latvia), Mantas Dubauskas (Lithuania) and Mikk Salu (Estonia).
Having received his release papers from the prison’s management, on an average day of the Baltic autumn Rimantas Muka (31) moved through the gates of Alytus prison in Lithuania. He bought a kebab and a soda at a nearby kiosk. He just stood there and ate, waiting. Muka thought that the autumn morning was wonderful.
It happens very quickly. I raise my foot on the chair, roll up my trousers and a prison official fixes black plastic-rubber band around my ankle. It looks like a large wristwatch. 30 seconds and done. I am now one of the 100 people who at this very moment are electronically tagged in Estonia.
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania has the largest prisoners population in the European Union. They have twice as much prisoners as an EU average, and 4 – 5 times more than in Netherlands. The average length of imprisonment is 5 – 10 years, while in EU it is 1 – 3. Half of Latvian prisoners re-offend within two years. See more in the infographic.
6AM. Six men are drinking moonshine at the shared table in one of the cells of the largest prison in Latvia. None of them cares about guards because often overnight there is just one for 400 prisoners.
Among the Baltic countries Estonia’s media are the healthiest in terms of finances, trust of society, readership and press freedom, concludes the new Re:Baltica research about the state of the media sector in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Andrejs Ērglis, one of Latvia’s most famous doctors, is from a well known medical family and combines professional talent with personal charm. In his own words, he has raised Latvian interventional heart surgery to a world level. But how can a poor country with one of Europe’s lowest healthcare budgets also be among the world leaders in expensive heart operations using stents, the microscopic structures used to repair damaged arteries? And why, even though it spends so much on such procedures, does Latvia not also lead in reducing the number of premature deaths, with heart disease still the country’s main killer?
Adults are worried that teenagers in Latvia are getting fatter and unhealthier, but at the same time allow the sale of harmful foods in schools. Banning these harmful products from schools would deprive private firms of a significant source of profits.
Latvian government is working on one of the biggest healthcare reforms since the country gained its independence. Healthcare Minister Circene says it will be fairer to tax payers, fight the grey economy and bring more money into the healthcare system. But doctors and the Ombudsman argue that the change will not make people healthier and leave 100,000 uninsured.
Although the number of extremely poor people in Riga has fallen since the worst point of the crisis in 2009, there is still a large number of Rigans in need of social support from local government: 63,000 people, equivalent to 9% of the city's population. Part of that number goes every day to soup kitchens that are either fully- or partly-paid-for by the municipal authorities. The recipients of these hot meals are mainly single pensioners and families on minimal incomes, according to both the statistics and students' observations.