Workers Vanguard No. 863
3 February 2006
From Early Soviet Correctional Labor Law
We print below a translation of selected statutes and guidelines of the early Soviet workers state pertaining to prison labor, from the Russian-language book Gulag 1918-1960 (A. I. Kokurin, N. V. Petrov, eds. [Materik, 2002]).
Directive of the Peoples Commissar of Justice
on Prison Work Crews,
24 January 1918
1) From among the able-bodied detainees in jails, crews are to be formed for production needed by the state. The difficulty of this work is not to exceed that of an unskilled laborer.
2) Those under arrest (both those under investigation, and those convicted) receive pay at the level of salaries of the given field of industry for the labor they perform.
3) One-third of the above-specified pay goes into the prisons general fund for improvement of the lives of the arrested; two-thirds is held in account for the arrested, and paid out upon their release.
4) Upon the request of the arrested, one-tenth of the money earned by him may be paid out in cash at the end of each workweek.
Correctional Labor Codex of
the Russian Socialist
Federation of Soviet Republics,
16 October 1924
Article 4: In order that the effect of corrective labor on the arrested be complete and genuine, the jails of the previous period must be replaced by a continual improvement, and the maximal development, of a network of agricultural, artisan and workshop colonies and transitional correctional labor homes, built for the most part outside of cities.
Article 6: In detaining prisoners in correctional labor institutions, the latter must strive for proper influence on the prisoner, and reinforce those of his characteristics and skills that could constrain him from further crimes. Detention must be consistent with this aim, and not inflicting physical torments or humiliation of human dignity.
Article 51: The employment of prisoners in labor has an educational-corrective character, aimed at training them to work, acquiring skills of a particular profession, giving them the chance to live the life of a worker upon their release.
Article 83: The task of cultural-enlightenment work is to raise the intellectual level and civil development of the prisoner by means of imparting to him a general education, a professional skill and a familiarity with the basis of Soviet society and the rights and obligations of citizens of the USSR.