An audit conducted by the office revealed that with the government keeping pushing back the deadlines, prison conditions in Lithuania remain non-compliant with the EU requirements and the modernization costs have been rising every year, thus increasing the state’s financial burden.
The auditors looked at the implementation of a program called “Penal System” and designed to create and develop a cost-effective and efficient system for the enforcement of sentences.
The Justice Ministry and the Prison Department last year spent 67.1 million euros, including 1.4 million euros in Norwegian grants and co-financing funds, on the program.
The auditors find out that the establishment of the system has been most hindered by the protracted prison modernization process and the lack of a targeted approach to investment planning.
With the process dragging on, the number of inmates going to court over the inadequate prison conditions rose to 935 in 2015, more than a six-fold increase compared with 2013, and the total amount of payments made to them surged more than 19-fold over the period to around a million euros.
“The auditors maintain that the identified problems and shortcomings must be addressed, because the state’s financial burden is likely to grow further,” the office said.
The government back in September 2009 approved a strategy for the modernization of penal facilities.
Plans called for building by 2017 modern prison facilities in the regions of Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys and in Pravieniškės, close to Kaunas, and modernizing the correctional facilities of Kybartai, Alytus and Pravieniškės and the Kaunas juvenile remand prison.
The strategy also envisaged moving the Lukiskės Prison out of the center of Vilnius and closing down the correctional facilities of Vilnius, Panevėžys and Marijampolė and the Šiauliai remand prison.
There are around 7,000 detainees and convicts in Lithuania’s penal facilities.