The Public Defender responds to the May 7, 2012 Order No. 63 of the Minister of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance15 05 2012
The Public Defender of Georgia has responded to the May 7, 2012 Order No. 63 of the Minister of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance according to which the capacity of penal establishments has increased by 1,724.
According to the changes, new, increased capacities have been determined for eight penal establishments, as a result of which a total of 1,724 places were added to penal establishments. Accordingly, the total capacity amounts to 25,354 places. 
The May 7, 2012 Order should be unequivocally assessed as a step backwards, since no important and large-scale infrastructural changes have been made in penal establishments recently which would have justified the increase in the capacity. It should be noted that the current capacity, which is distributed to 17 establishments, exceeds the capacity which was distributed to 19 establishments (including the Avchala Establishment No. 10 and the Khoni Establishment No. 13 which were abolished in 2011) by 704 places. This, in itself, speaks clearly of the negative character of the aforementioned change.
The changes have also increased the capacities of those establishments which failed to provide every prisoner with an individual bed even up to now. In particular, we mean the Tbilisi Establishment No. 1 and the Zugdidi Establishment No. 4 which are fully amortized and need to be abolished and on the abolishment of which the Public Defender has given several recommendations. The same is true for Establishment No. 12 where the living conditions are poor.
Moreover, with the increased capacities, in most of the penal establishments, prisoners will no longer be able even to enjoy the living space provided for in the Georgian legislation, which is far less than the European standard of 4 square meters recommended by the CPT.
In fact, the Minister’s Order has formally camouflaged overcrowding which has been a problem of some establishments for the past several years and which has been emphasized on several occasions in the reports of both the Public Defender of Georgia and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). We consider that it is inadmissible to fight overcrowding by formally increasing the capacities of establishments, and it can never ensure the resolution of the problem.
The Public Defender has addressed the relevant agencies with many recommendations to solve the problem of overcrowding in penal establishments which, in its turn, both makes prisoners’ life significantly harsher and reflects negatively on their physical and mental health. In the Public Defender’s opinion, in order to fight overcrowding, it is necessary to take complex measures, including the revision of the criminal justice policy, a more active application of alternative punishments, and ensuring that the system of probation works effectively. 
 1. Establishment No. 1 - 750 --- 1,086 (new capacity) + 336
2. Establishment No. 4 - 305 --- 390 (new capacity) + 85
3. Establishment No. 5 - 1,200 --- 1,349 (new capacity) + 149
4. Establishment No. 6 - 1,400 --- 1,601 (new capacity) + 201
5. Establishment No. 9 - 970 --- 1,142 (new capacity) + 172
6. Establishment No. 12 - 700 --- 730 (new capacity) + 30
7. Establishment No. 14 – 2,500 --- 2,690 (new capacity) + 190
8. Establishment No. 15 – 3,300 --- 3,861 (new capacity) + 561
Total - + 1,724
 According to the old wording of the Order, the official capacity was 24,650, though, since the Avchala Establishment No. 10 and the Khoni Establishment No. 13 stopped functioning in 2011, the real capacity, excluding the aforementioned establishments, was 23,630.
 See the reports of the Public Defender and the National Preventive Mechanism: http://www.ombudsman.ge/index.php?page=21&lang=0