Politics 28/01/2021

The Generalitat grants parole to political prisoners

They will leave prison this Friday and will have to sleep again either in prison or in an open jail from Monday to Thursday

3 min
Political prisoners raise independence goal one year after sentencing

It has taken the Generalitat fourteen days to accept the prison boards' proposal to reclassify political prisoners as "third degree", thus allowing them to move to open centres and spend weekends with their families. There were not many doubts that this would be the decision, taking into account that six months ago the secretariat of Penal Measures, Reinsertion and Attention to the Victim already granted them this condition. Now one of the arguments to do it again is, precisely, the time elapsed since the last time and the fact that most of the inmates have already served or are about to serve a quarter of their sentence. Only former speaker Carme Forcadell remains, pending a resolution from the Justice Department, which has not yet analysed her case, according to executive sources. The Prosecutor's Office can appeal the decision, which would en up on penitentiary surveillance judges' tables, who will reach the final decision.

The first implication of this measure is that political prisoners will be able to take part in the election campaign that begins precisely this Thursday (formally at midnight). They will not be able to do it this afternoon in Mataró (ERC) nor in Esplugues (JxCat), but if they consider it appropriate they may join it from this Friday when all (except Forcadell) will leave their prisons to spend the weekend at home. Their physical participation in the campaign was a variable that was taken for granted - either thanks to permits or the third degree -, but there is also a possibility that they might be locked up again before the vote. Unlike other occasions in the last three years, none of them has been able to be ion the ballot lists, as they have been disqualified.

A month ago, the Supreme Court ruled strongly against the third degree for political prisoners. It considered it "premature", taking into account they were handed down sentences of between 9 and 13 years in prison, although, beyond the elapsed time of the sentence, the main criticism of the magistrates was directed at the Generalitat, accusing it of trying to "permanently reinterpret" the sentence. "They become an extravagant third instance that attributes itself the task of making fairer the decision emanating from the judges and courts constitutionally called to the exercise of the jurisdictional function," lamented the Supreme Court in the order of 4 December. "The bodies of the penitentiary administration cannot empty the criminal response proclaimed by a court of justice, submitting its sentence to a re-reading that disguises a privileged penitentiary treatment and, precisely for that reason, improper", concluded the high court.

Arguments for the third degree

The three years of prison are "a sufficient time for the confirmation of a positive evolution", ensures the Department of Justice. And more when all could leave for several weeks of prisons to work or volunteer, either thanks to article 100.2 of the prison regulations or, from July, the third degree. Forcadell and Bassa, in fact, continued in regime of semi-freedom until the Supreme Court's December ruling. This is a situation that could be repeated now.

Although one of the arguments that the Prosecutor's Office has used so far to oppose the third degree is that none of them has repented of the facts for which they were convicted, the classification service of the Generalitat ensures that there is "a prognosis of low risk of recidivism" and that all have participated in "activities of reasoning, critical judgement and conflict resolution". In addition, "the maximum collaboration, both with the rest of inmates as with the professionals of the penitentiary facilities", plays in their favour, as well as "the absence of judicial breaches and disciplinary proceedings". The resolutions also take into account that, in all cases, "there is a social and family network favourable to rehabilitation".

Calvo recalls that other authorities can have a say

The Spanish government says that "they don't have a say on these issues". However, the first vice president of the Spanish government, Carmen Calvo, recalled that there are other authorities that may have a say on the third degree.