Viewing cable 06VILNIUS83
Title: A VIEW FROM BEHIND BARS: VILNIUS'S LUKISKES

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VILNIUS832006-01-26 12:41:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000083 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, CA/OCS (M. URBINA-MITTNACHT) 
FRANKFURT FOR RSC-RCO RBROWN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CASC CMGT CPAS PGOV LH
SUBJECT:  A VIEW FROM BEHIND BARS:  VILNIUS'S LUKISKES 
PRISON 
 
REF: VILNIUS 82 
 
¶1.  This is the second cable in a two-part series detailing 
efforts law enforcement in Lithuania's capital of Vilnius 
is taking to meet the increased demand upon its services by 
a burgeoning tourist industry, and a review of Vilnius's 
local criminal justice facilities. 
 
¶2.  Summary.  Lithuania maintains a highly structured and 
transparent prison system that fully complies with EU and 
international norms for the treatment and housing of the 
perpetrators of crime.  Americans charged with more serious 
infractions of Lithuania's penal code will reside in the 
former tsarist "model" prison of Lukiskes in a special wing 
with other foreign nationals until their cases are 
resolved.  During a site visit to this principal 
penitentiary for Vilnius, senior administrators told 
Consular staff that while conditions are humane, they face 
overcrowding and a shortage of financing that can affect 
the quality of services it provides to inmates.  End 
Summary. 
 
¶3.  Three members of Post's consular staff, including a 
Vice Consul, Senior ACS FSN, and Fraud Assistant on January 
17 toured Vilnius' Lukiskes prison.  Staff met with 
Lukiskes Prison Director Arvydas Izicka and Deputy Director 
Jonas Malaskevicius.  Discussions with interlocutors were 
open and frank, and consular staff were offered complete 
access to the entire facility.  Consular staff toured the 
renovated maximum-security wing, and the respective non- 
renovated wings housing minimum-security inmates and 
juveniles.  Staff also toured the prison's chapel and art 
studio. 
 
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Lukiskes Prison 
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¶4.  Americans who face criminal charges in Vilnius above 
the simple misdemeanor level (reftel) will be transferred 
within 48 hours from the police station where they were 
held following their arrest to Lukiskes prison, where they 
will be held until the resolution of their case. 
Foreigners are housed separately from the general 
population in single or double-occupancy cells.  Those of 
the same nationality, when possible, are housed together. 
 
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Facilities 
---------- 
 
¶5.  Built in 1904 as a model prison of modernity by tsarist 
authorities, the Lukiskes penitentiary remains Vilnius's 
largest facility.  Though its residents include all strata 
of the criminal justice system, from teenagers and women to 
maximum-security inmates, the prison's primary function is 
to serve as a temporary housing facility for those 
following arraignment, participating in their trial, or 
awaiting sentencing.  Though the prison's current 
population stands some 200 inmates above its maximum 
occupancy of 864, the prison's leadership proudly noted the 
humane treatment and myriad of services available to 
inmates.  The prison, they said, has hosted three 
inspections from the EU's Committee on Human Rights, as 
well as a visit by the Queen of Sweden.  Some 400 guards 
and administrative personnel staff the prison.  The 
facility holds 70 maximum-security inmates in single cell 
housing in a newly renovated wing.  Separate buildings 
house the medium- and minimum-security wings, with some 145 
inmates of the former living in generally two-person cells, 
and some 75 non-violent offenders of the latter category 
living communally.  Other buildings house some ten juvenile 
offenders between the ages of 16-18, and approximately 40 
women. 
 
¶6.  The prison's population sees a great deal of turnover, 
because some 700 prisoners are temporarily housed as their 
cases wind through the court system before being released 
or transferred to other long-term housing facilities 
throughout Lithuania.  Long-term housing facilities for 
juvenile and female prisoners, for example, are located in 
the cities of Kaunas and Panevezys, respectively. 
 
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Renovations and Services 
------------------------ 
 
¶7.  Interlocutors said that funding shortfalls dragged out 
renovations to the maximum-security wing, with a price tag 
of 180,000 USD, over a ten-year period.  They hope that 
Lithuania's accession to the EU in 2004 will spur 
additional allotments for renovations from Lithuania's 
parliament, since most inmates inhabit the non-renovated 
portions of the facility that may best be described as 
Soviet-ramshackle. 
 
¶8.  All permanent residents of the prison have the right to 
a TV, with cable hookup provided at no cost, a DVD or VCR 
player, and a computer, though Internet access is 
prohibited.  Inmates are provided educational opportunities 
from vocational (such as IT) or GED classes to university 
and graduate programs.  Educators from local institutions, 
such as Vilnius Pedagogical University, regularly visit the 
prison to provide instruction. 
 
¶9.  All permanent residents of the prison may work, though 
maximum- and minimum-security inmates are always kept 
apart.  While most work for the prisoners is focused on 
maintaining the inmates and the facilities, the prison has 
an agreement with a Lithuanian-German venture for the 
production of wood products, such as birdhouses, rabbit 
hutches, and wine boxes.  Representatives of the 
partnership regularly visit the prison to select inmates to 
work and to conduct quality control.  The company pays 
inmates a wage, and EU labor laws govern the work.  Though 
the German company keeps most of the profits, they do 
contribute money to a general welfare fund to assist 
inmates who do not work.  Interlocutors note that 
approximately half of the inmates work in some capacity. 
 
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Nutrition 
--------- 
 
¶10.  Claiming that the prisoners often eat better than the 
guards, interlocutors said that the prison provides 
sustenance that meets minimum EU caloric and nutrition 
guidelines.  Post's medical officer, however, recently 
recommended augmenting daily protein and fiber intake for 
an American citizen-prisoner housed in a regional prison 
facility.  All prisoners at Lukiskes may supplement their 
nutrition by purchasing food from the well-stocked "dry" 
prison canteen with money either earned through work at the 
prison or with funds credited to their account by friends 
or relatives.  (NOTE:  Interlocutors told us that in some 
EU countries prisoners may only use funds earned themselves 
in the prison canteen.)  Though inmates may no longer 
receive care packages, relatives may bring food to the 
prison, and, in some cases, eat with the inmates in special 
administrative rooms. 
 
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Health Care 
----------- 
 
¶11.  Every individual housed in the Lukiskes prison 
receives a comprehensive medical exam during in-processing, 
even if they were only transferred from another facility 
for a short time.  HIV and TB screenings are part of this 
exam.  Most medical care is provided by a nearby, though 
off-site, prison-run hospital.  Psychologists, 
psychiatrists, and social workers regularly visit the 
facility.  A psychologist works full time in the juvenile 
wing.  Interlocutors noted that the prison provides classes 
to inmates focused on such topics as HIV and suicide 
prevention as well as some nine "psychological" 
rehabilitation programs focused on such topics as drug and 
alcohol abuse. 
 
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Exercise 
-------- 
 
¶12.  The prison has exercise facilities available to its 
long-term residents.  The wing for juvenile offenders has 
its own exercise room, with a stationary bicycle, step 
machine, inclined bench and pull up bar.  Interlocutors 
noted that the most popular form of exercise between April 
and October is basketball. 
 
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Religion 
-------- 
 
¶13.  Inmates are free to practice their religion of choice. 
Formal religious ceremonies for practitioners of 
Catholicism and Orthodoxy are conducted in the on-site 
chapel.  Inmates held in the maximum-security wing may 
receive services in their cells, as can those of other 
faiths. 
 
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Comment 
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¶14.  Though most mischief-causing American tourists will 
see nothing more severe than the local police station 
holding tank, those that find themselves in Lukiskes prison 
awaiting adjudication of their case will likely find the 
conditions tolerable and humane. 
 
KELLY