Romania's anti-corruption prosecutors investigates 'Publishing in Prison' law for alleged corrupt practices and questionable scientific papers
Jan 13, 2016 01:23 AM EST
Romania's anti-corruption prosecutors are conducting a probe on the 'Publishing in Prison' law as it is reportedly being used an outlet of corruption and white collar elitism.
According to The Guardian, Romanian law provides that prisoners can have 30 days removed from their jail term for every scientific book they published. While the intent of the law is good, there are suspicions that rich inmates are hiring academic scholars and professors to do the work for them.
In one of the cases cited under investigation, a 212-page book was written by an unidentified prisoner in a matter of seven hours. This is considerably quite a feat, considering the prisoners do not have access to the Internet or other resource materials as they make their compositions, ABC News reported Tuesday.
A known high profile case involves Dan Voiculescu, who is dubbed as one of Romania's richest men. He reportedly owns several television stations and a football club. Voiculescu was sentenced to 10 years in prison in August 2014 under charges of money laundering and fraudulently privatizing an agricultural institute. In the course of his imprisonment, he has reportedly completed eight scientific papers.
The law has been mired with scandal as politicians and business imprisoned for charges of graft take advantage of it to get out of prison in a shorter period of time.
Reports say the loophole lies in the fact that the law provides very few measures to review and check the value and authenticity of the works submitted. The reduction is subject to a judge's discretion based on the merits of the publication.
"No one is verifying the scientific value of the work, or if they have time to write these books," National Anti-Corruption Directorate Chief Prosecutor Laura Codru ța Kövesi said. "People are writing eight, nine, 10 books with no scientific value but are still able to reduce their sentences. This is indirectly affecting the fight against corruption."
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna proposes to strike down the law through an emergency government ordinance.
Meanwhile, 15 Romanian senators are lobbying an amendment to the law, as per a CTV News report.
"The law has been like this for many years but we haven't seen such abuses until recently," said Laura Stefan, anti-corruption expert and former director at the Romanian ministry of justice. "It has come at a time when Romania's anti-corruption push has started to generate convictions."
The National Penitentiaries Administration revealed that 415 scientific works have been submitted by prisoners, and were published between 2013 and 2015.