About prison education
My name is Radu, I am from Cantemir district. I have been in the city of Leova, that is, in Penitentiary No. 3 for four years.
Eugene, before I ended up in the Leova Penitentiary, I have never been to the city of Leova itself. I passed it on public transport on my way to Galati. I have been in prison since 2016, being sentenced to 12 years.
My name is Marian, I am from Ștefan-Vodă district, Logănești village. I am 24 years old. I have been serving my sentence since 2017.
My name is Veaceslav, I am sentenced to 8 years. I have been in prison for 4 years.
My name is Andrei, 16 years sentence, I am from Hâncești district. I have been in Penitentiary No. 3 – Leova for 5 years.
I graduated the ninth grade. After nine grades I went to Cahul, I learned the specialty of plasterer-tiller. After that I went to the army, after the army I went home for a while and after that I went abroad.
When I was on the outside, I studied in primary school in my native village.
I graduated the ninth grade in my native village. After that I studied in an art lyceum in Romania, Satul Mare county. I have studied for 3 years and after that I was convicted.
I obtained a bachelor degree and after that I applied in Romania and I enrolled into a medical faculty in Galați, on the lower Danube, where I have studied for 4 years and I haven’t finished because I ended up in the penitentiary.
Until my conviction, I graduated high school and a technical university, created a family and ended up in prison.
The first days in prison
I was arrested at the age of 23, turning 24 in the Preventive Detention Centre. There were always negative thoughts, but I had no thoughts of committing suicide.
I kept to myself for about 3 days, I wasn’t talking to anyone.
I was self-contained and filled with hatred towards many people around me.
Being convicted, the first days were a shock, it was something I did not expect. Every man has 2, maybe 3 paths. Some can’t handle it, commit suicide, others don’t. Of course, there are negative ideas, negative thoughts, but the first weeks it was as if I wasn’t there, but as if I was observing myself in the third person, until I felt that everything around me was real. Everything is very real and this is not some action movie etc.
I decided to get a grip. I found a refuge in reading. I had time to analyze everything I was studying, everything that happened to me and I had time to compare the two. And it also helped me get closer to freedom quicker.
I began to pray more. I saw miracles in my own life, my prayers were fulfilled the next day. Without asking people for help, I just got on my knees in the Orthodox Church and prayed.
I saw an ad on a board and thought about trying. I went to a lady, who was dealing with the announcement, and asked her what needs to be done. The lady gave me paper sheets and I started drawing. I made a drawing, which was exhibited at the penitentiary exhibition and, seeing that it is appreciated, I decided to continue. Over time, various ads regarding artistic creations appeared and I was always involved. I started to get involved in the spring holidays “Mărțișor”, “Europe Day”. After that I made my first painting in the context of the library’s opening. Then I started working on the face of Ștefan cel Mare, after that we started drawing on candles in a workshop. I am currently working on anti-drug paintings.
I did my best to participate in all the programs, seminars, trainings organized by reintegration specialists.
About the next steps
At some point I found out that a viticulture school with a dual education will open in the penitentiary. After analyzing it, I understood that dual education was very convenient for me. I had the opportunity to gain a profession and get employed.
At the psychologist, social worker, educator, I took courses such as “Active Citizenship”, “A Healthy Way of Life”. I also attended a vocational school, specializing in electro-welding.
Although I have a bachelor degree in English, I also studied it at university, I did not hesitate to enroll in the optional English language seminar, which took place in the penitentiary. I enrolled in media education, where I learned to distinguish false news from true news. In general, I think it is beneficial for people to get informed from different sources, so that they can draw an unbiased conclusion within the amount of information we are bombarded with. We need to know how to distinguish reality. At the assertive communication seminar, I improved my skills of communicating diplomatically with those around me, both with the people in the penitentiary and with those from the other side.
Bibliotherapy and E-government.
Although I did not participate in entrepreneurship programs, many new materials were brought to the library on this topic and I also talked to the detainees, who attended this course and I liked the way their views changed.
NGOs are welcome in the penitentiary, because detainees get in touch with their representatives more easily than with the staff of penitentiary institutions.
Christian people, people who teach us welder, carpenter specialties or “Positive Initiative”. We trust those who come the outside more.
About COVID-19 and education
Now after the pandemic, everything has changed and it’s totally different. We do all the activities in a video format. This is a plus anyway, because we haven’t stopped and we continue learning and we can develop further. Another plus is that everything is based on technology now.
All seminars have become webinars. All lessons take place through the internet, online. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The good part is that we are progressing at a very high speed, so in the future we will be able to receive higher education, while being in detention.
I personally see more advantages in the way the activities take place now, because more possibilities have been opened up for the people, who are responsible for educational activities, to be able to develop them. And in the future, when the pandemic ends, the old methods will be combined with the new methods and this is an upgrade to the system.
The downside is that we can’t get together in a group.
I would like to refer to the motivation I had not to stagnate. My rhythm at freedom was a rhythm of learning something new, of studying, of researching. When I ended up in prison, my brain demanded activity, just as the muscle demands activity from an athlete.
Everything started to change. I began to have goals in life, wishes, etc. Now I think about the future more and time flies very fast.
Getting closer to freedom, secondly, it is a way of maintaining yourself, developing and also spend your free time in a useful manner. Due to the fact that we have a lot of free time, we have to spend it in such a way as to grow.
Mandatory seminars are part of the individual program. I chose to participate in the optional ones in order to enrich my knowledge, skills and at the same time not to lose the ability to socialize, to interact…
This material was made by a team of detainees from Penitentiary Nr.3-Leova within the frame of contest “THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN PENITENTIARY INSTITUTIONS” organized by “DVV International Moldova”, in collaboration with P.O. “Positive Initiative” and the National Administration of Penitentiaries of the Republic of Moldova.
Translation: Dan Erușevschi