Rus Articles Journal

Why in Russia orthodox priests entered a staff of prison administration?

Among intelligence agencies and law-enforcement establishments of Russia traditionally the greatest number of priests entered a staff of prison department. At the beginning of the 19th century this practice received standard fixing. In May, 1831 the Committee of ministers approved the prison instruction supporting the head About " church; which in detail regulated a legal status of prison churches, an order of visit by prisoners of church services, departures of religious practices. In the instruction the aspiration of the state to combine efforts of prison administration and priests in education of prisoners was accurately traced. Formally priests, deacons and psalm readers are a part of prison administration from now on that was legislatively fixed in 1887 when they were recognized as official officials of management personnel of places of detention. From now on in Russia the independent institute of prison clergy appeared.

In 1911 346 priests, 30 deacons and 208 psalm readers served in 273 prison churches and 77 churches located at prisons. In corrective prisoner offices there were 40 more churches which served 44 priests, 4 deacons and 30 psalm readers.

In the remote regions of the country prison churches often were the only temples in the district therefore locals became their parishioners also. In this case, the measures fixed by the special instruction were applied to an exception of undesirable contacts of prisoners with strangers and prevention of escapes. Delivery to parishioners of nominal permissions (tickets) behind the signature and the press of the chief of prison for single or continuous visit of church was provided. Prisoners during church services separated from other parishioners a deaf partition or an iron lattice. When in church except prisoners there were only employees of the prison and their families, were limited to the device of a barrier or wide free space. Surely in church the dress of prison guards was exposed.

For it is religious - moral impact on prisoners not only possibilities of priests, but also a significant amount of the popechitelny and patronage organizations which were allowed to work in jails were used. For January 1, 1909 those there were more than 50. Members of these organizations carried out religious readings in prisons, supplied prison libraries and concluded by religious literature. So, only the representative of Society popechitelny about prisons I. R. Kargel from 1896 to 1908 visited jails 603 times and distributed 67780 copies of the New Testament. From the popechitelny organizations considerable sums of money which were spent for church needs and additional payments to clergy came to prison department. Only in 1908. on these purposes more than 105 thousand rubles arrived.

The noticeable place in educational impact on prisoners was allocated to prison libraries. It was defined that the maintenance of libraries with selection of books spiritually - religious contents, the organization of readings and the device spiritually - moral conversations is assigned to prison priests . Often prison libraries possessed considerable book fund. So, in library of Aleksandrovsky unbearable prison which was managed by the priest Pisarev in 1909 there were more than 4,5 thousand volumes. About 300 rubles from the economic sums were annually allocated for acquisition of books in this prison.

Efforts of prison clergy created schools for juvenile prisoners and children of policemen. Priests not only managed these schools, but also taught in them a number of objects, first of all - the Scripture.

The prison clergy actively was attracted for education at prison guards of the jealous relation to execution of functions. Various methods were for this purpose used. So, there was a practice of celebration anniversaries of service when it was noted 20, 25, 30 etc. years of blameless service of officers, officials and the lower ranks of guards. Traditionally celebration began in prison church where served a prayer, then the priest acted with thanksgiving word in honor of the hero of the anniversary. As a gift the icon or skladen was, as a rule, presented to the hero of the anniversary. Such celebrations took place at big gathering of people. Often at celebration of deserved lower ranks there were senior representatives of prison department, provincial and district administrations, the episcopate. Messages on such celebrations printed in the local press and the " magazine; Prison bulletin .

The role of orthodox clergy constantly increased in prisons. According to the instruction of December 28, 1915 priests became members of prison meeting on the internal schedule. The instruction ordered the general prayers of prisoners in the morning, in the evening, before a lunch and a dinner. It determined by the purpose of educational impact on prisoners suggestion of the correct concepts about religion and about the general civil duties demanding devotion to the Throne and the Fatherland and honoring to the relevant laws and the authorities .

Activity of prison clergy was under control of a hierarchy. Members of the Synod, metropolitans and bishops often visited jails, carried out church services, read sermons, penetrated into needs of prison churches. So, the Metropolitan Sankt - the St. Petersburg and Ladoga Anthony not only annually visited jails, but also acted on pages of the Prison bulletin on problems of religious education in prisons.

The orthodox church not only actively worked in jails, but also itself it was included in system of establishments of execution of punishments. The system of the church punishments which developed Russia varied from the church repentance which is legislatively established still by Peter I before lifelong keeping in monastic prison where it was possible to get, without having visited under court and a consequence. According to the decision of the emperor or the Synod for detention any monastery could be used.

Often the conclusion in monastic prison differed in extreme cruelty since the power of the abbot not only over prisoners, but also over policemen was almost uncontrolled. So, the prison instruction of Spaso - the Evfimyevsky monastery, developed in 1855, provided that in perfect submission to the archimandrite the inspector of prisoner office, military guards and attendants " consist;. It possesses the right to impose various punishments on prisoners, including - to limit food to bread and water, to chain in shackles. And on terms such punishments were not limited.

Today returned to practice of vigorous activity of orthodox clergy in places of detention. There is a wish to believe that it will help at least part of prisoners to follow a way of correction.]