On the Situation in the Central Penitentiary Prison in Karaj
HRANA news agency – The situation in the Karaj Central Prison, with almost 8000 prisoners, about 400 inmates on death row, and four prisoners of conscience is disconcerting.
One of the Central Penitentiary Prison inmates told a HRANA correspondent, "Inmates are searched upon entering prison, and their shoes, jackets, and any items of warm clothing they have on them are taken away. They are not even given a pair of slippers and enter the ward with bare feet."
The officials don't allow prisoners' families to bring them warm clothing
He continued, "[Prison] officials don't even give prisoners blankets. New inmates must purchase blankets themselves. The officials don't allow prisoners' families to bring them warm clothing. Prisoners are permitted to receive clothing from their families only once a year, and that is provided they do not include warm clothes. As a result, prisoners' families are not allowed to send jackets or sweatshirts to them."
The prisoner added, "The prison has been facing a considerable shortage of funds for healthcare and has recently made prisoners responsible for their own healthcare costs. Moreover, the situation, with regard to prisoners' nutrition and state rations, has significantly worsened. The [prison] health clinic doesn't even stock medicine for sick prisoners, and its shelves are totally empty. There are many patients suffering from tuberculosis or blood diseases, such as hepatitis and AIDS. Inmates infected with TB, hepatitis, and AIDS are not even quarantined. The prison authorities do not reveal which prisoners are sick, to ensure that they are not ostracized by their inmates. The ailing prisoners also hide their diseases from fellow inmates."
There are many patients suffering from tuberculosis or blood diseases, such as hepatitis and AIDS. Inmates infected with TB, hepatitis, and AIDS are not even quarantined
Regarding the food served in prison, he said, "The best kinds of food they give prisoners, in the form of lunch, are of extremely low quality and very dry rice with soya, rice with noodles, or rice with lentils. Red or white meat has been totally removed from the prisoners' diets, while bread rations are becoming more and more scarce. Narcotics are widely available in prison and far easier to get hold of than outside prison."
The prisoner continued, "There is no hot water for bathing. The hot water comes on at exactly 9.30 in the morning, which is when the cleaning begins. Afterwards, it is turned off, and so prisoners are effectively barred from bathing with hot water. Prisoners have, therefore, no choice but to either shower with cold water or even totally abandon the thought of washing. Consequently, illnesses, such as colds and throat infection, have become rife, not to mention the increasing number of prisoners covered in harmful insects such as lice and bugs. In our ward, which contains over 500 inmates, some 25 of them are taken to the health clinic every week. Those prisoners fortunate enough to be taken to the health clinic are seen in a group (the source used the word herd as in herd of sheep) by a physician called Doctor (Mo'menat). The doctor does not even make an effort to examine [the sick prisoners], and almost all the prescriptions are similar.
In our ward, which contains over 500 inmates, some 25 of them are taken to the health clinic every week
[The medicines prescribed] are from those in stock at the health clinic. The most common prescriptions are: a single cold tablet, an ibuprofen tablet, or an antibiotic. No one is ever prescribed the full course of antibiotics. Hence, the disease becomes more resistant. Prisoners unable to make it to the health clinic prescribe their own medicine, which they purchase from the black market. "
He continued, "Owing to the frequent gas outages in the ward, prisoners are unable to prepare their own food or even make a cup of tea. Moreover, as a result of the high number of prisoners in the ward, inmates, who are literally in a sleep corridor, spend the entire day in the prison courtyard. They even sleep in the courtyard, despite the cold weather and without proper clothing. The mandatory fresh air breaks are every morning from 9:30 to 12:00, and every afternoon from 2:30 to half an hour before dusk. During the fresh air breaks, prisoners without adequate clothing are forced to stay outside in the cold. In the courtyard, there is not even enough space for prisoners to walk. Furnishings, such as the moquette carpet on the corridor, which was underneath the prisoners in the sleep corridor, the glass in the windows and the television sets in the ward, were purchased by the prisoners themselves. The prison authorities who sold the TV sets to the inmates would even go as far as confiscating any sets worth over 700,000 tomans (about $3)."
There are almost 8000 inmates in the Central Penitentiary Prison in Karaj. About 400 of the inmates there are on death row
Concluding his remarks, the prisoner said, "Previously, the Penitentiary Prison in Karaj was made up of two wards and 10 halls, but recently they have converted every prison hall into a ward. Currently, the prison is made up of 10 normal wards, a labor ward, and an open ward. The open ward comprises prisoners who work and are granted regular weekly leave. These inmates are often selected from among those who have committed financial crimes. There are almost 8000 inmates in the Central Penitentiary Prison in Karaj. About 400 of the inmates there are on death row. The four prisoners of conscience in Ward 7 of the Central Penitentiary Prison in Karaj are: Mohammad Reza Pourshajari, Ali Mo'ezzi, Behnam Irani and Hossein “Stephan” Saketi-Aramsari.