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On 25 July 2014, at the hearing of a Parliamentary committee, the former Minister of Corrections of Georgia, Sozar Subari, summarised the activities of his former Ministry. He stated: “The real change is that according to the data of the first seven months of 2014, the number of deaths in the penitentiary facilities is ten times less (4.5 times per 10,000 prisoners). For example, if, during the office of the United National Movement, 23 people died every month, now we have nine deaths in seven months.”

The Minister also discussed the issue of suicides in the penitentiary facilities and pointed out:  “There are suicide prevention programmes and other things as well. In October of the previous year, we launched the suicide prevention programme and there has been only one suicide in nine months since November.”

FactCheck

took interest in Mr Subari’s statement and verified its accuracy.

The Ministry of Corrections of Georgia did not produce any kind of statistics before 2010. The prisoner mortality statistics in Georgian penitentiary facilities from 2006 to 2010 can be found in the 2011 Public Defender’s Report. As for the prisoner mortality statistics from 2012 to 2014, FactCheck

requested appropriate public information several times. The received data look like this:

Table 1:  2006-2014 Prisoner Mortality Statistics

Month

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014 (Including July)

January

6

10

5

12

7

11

9

3

2

February

3

12

3

9

12

12

10

1

1

March

10

10

8

7

7

21

10

3

3

April

6

9

5

3

10

10

8

2

0

May

3

7

12

14

13

14

7

2

1

June

5

7

16

10

10

9

6

1

2

July

8

11

9

4

13

7

3

1

1

August

12

6

6

3

15

14

5

3

-

September

14

6

6

5

15

11

0

1

-

October

6

8

6

6

14

8

4

2

-

November

10

8

7

7

12

14

2

2

-

December

6

7

7

11

14

9

3

4

-

Total

89

101

90

91

142

140

67

25

10

As table 1 makes clear, the highest number of deaths in the penitentiary facilities from 2006 to 2013 was recorded in March 2011 when 21 prisoners died. Hence, Sozar Subari is wrong when generalising the statistics of just one month and saying that 23 prisoners per month died during the government of the United National Movement. As for 2014, ten prisoners have died in the first seven months.

As for the reduction of the absolute number of deaths, by 2013 it had reduced 5.7 times as compared to 2010 which was the year with the highest prisoner mortality rates in Georgia.

When talking about the absolute number of deaths, Sozar Subari compared the statistics of the first seven months of 2014 to those of the previous years. For a more accurate picture, FactCheck

compared the statistics of the first seven months of 2014 to those of the same periods of the previous years.

Table 2:  Prisoner Mortality Statistics of the First Seven Months from 2006 to 2014

Month

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014 (Including July)

January

6

10

5

12

7

11

9

3

2

February

3

12

3

9

12

12

10

1

1

March

10

10

8

7

7

21

10

3

3

April

6

9

5

3

10

10

8

2

0

May

3

7

12

14

13

14

7

2

1

June

5

7

16

10

10

9

6

1

2

July

8

11

9

4

13

7

3

1

1

Total

41

66

48

59

62

84

53

13

10

According to the prisoner mortality statistics of the first seven months from 2006 to 2014, the absolute number of prisoner deaths has reduced 8.4 times as compared to 2011 and 1.3 times as compared to 2013.

According to the practice adopted by the Council of Europe, the prisoner mortality rate is calculated by the number of deaths per 10,000 prisoners. FactCheck

calculated the prisoner mortality rates from 2006 to 2013 and compared them to the numbers stated by Mr Subari.

Table 3:  Prisoner Mortality Rate in Georgian Penitentiary Facilities from 2006 to 2014
Year Number of Accused/Prisoners Number of Deaths Mortality Rate (per 10,000 Prisoners )
2006 15,465 89 57.5
2007 18,309 101 55.1
2008 18,659 90 48.2
2009 21,239 91 42.8
2010 23,684 142 60.0
2011 24,114 140 58.1
2012 19,349 67 34.6
2013 9,093 25 27.5
2014 (As of July) 10,142 10 9.9

In his statement Sozar Subari did not specify the statistics of which year he used for comparison with the first seven months of 2014. If we take the 2010 statistics which is the highest from 2006 to 2013, the prisoner mortality rates of the first seven months of 2014 have reduced 6.1 times. However, we believe that comparing the statistics of seven months to the statistics of a whole year is not relevant. Thus, FactCheck

compared the 2010 and 2013 statistics. The highest number of prisoner deaths (60) was recorded in 2010 whilst the 2013 number reduced 2.2 times as compared to 2010 and equalled to 27.5.

In the second part of his statement Mr Subari talked about the suicide prevention programme. According to the data

of the World Health Organisation, prisoners are among the groups with a high risk of suicide. For example, the number of suicides in people held in pre-detention facilities is ten times higher than those of the other segments of society whilst the suicide rates in prisoners of penitentiary facilities is three times higher.

The creation of the suicide prevention programme in Georgian penitentiary facilities started in November 2013 and was launched in December of the same year. The main goal of the programme was to identify suicide-prone prisoners and help them.

According to Mr Subari’s statement, only one case of suicide has been recorded after launching the suicide prevention programme. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia, four cases of suicide have been registered from November 2013 to July 2014, three of them after launching the suicide prevention programme.

Table 4:  Statistics of Suicide in Georgian Penitentiary Facilities

Month

Year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

January

1

1

February

1

1

1

1

March

1

1

April

1

May

1

1

1

June

1

2

2

2

July

1

1

1

1

August

1

1

1

-

September

2

1

1

1

-

October

1

1

1

1

-

November

1

1

2

1

1

-

December

2

1

2

1

1

2

-

Total

6

3

5

7

5

2

5

6

4

6

-

Conclusion FactCheck

verified the accuracy of Sozar Subari’s statement. According to his statement, the absolute number of deaths in Georgian penitentiary facilities reduced ten times in the first seven months of 2014 whilst the mortality rates per 10,000 prisoners reduced 4.5 times. He said that if 23 prisoners died per month during the United National Movement government, only nine prisoners have died in the first seven months of 2014. As our study showed, the highest number of deaths (21 prisoners) from 2006 to 2013 was recorded in March 2011. Even though the numbers stated by Mr Subari are close to the data of March 2011, generalising it as one every month is inherently wrong. As for 2014, ten people have died in the penitentiary facilities in the first seven months.

FactCheck

compared the absolute number of deaths of 2013 to those of the previous years. It should be noted that the number of deaths has significantly reduced as compared to the previous years. The absolute number of deaths in 2013 has reduced 5.7 times as compared to that of 2010 which was the year with the highest mortality rate. However, even these numbers are two times less than the ones stated by the Minister who said that the numbers had reduced ten times.

FactCheck

also calculated the mortality rate reduction per 10,000 prisoners. We compared the 2010 and 2013 data. Therein, 2010 saw the highest mortality rate with 60 deaths per 10,000 prisoners. The mortality rate in 2013 reduced 2.2 times as compared to 2010 and equalled to 27.5. As we can see, these numbers also significantly differ from those stated by the former Minister.

Subari was also wrong when talking about the suicide statistics among the prisoners; namely, four cases (and not one as stated by Mr Subari) of suicide were registered from November 2013 to July 2014, three of which happened after launching the suicide prevention programme.

Based upon the aforementioned information, we conclude that Sozar Subari’s statement about the statistics of mortality and suicide rates in Georgian penitentiary facilities is MOSTLY FALSE.

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