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Prison Escapes in Western Siberia (1930–1945)

E. V. Suverov
Bulletin of Kemerovo State University , Volume 22; doi:10.21603/2078-8975-2020-22-2-362-369

Abstract: The author analyzed the causes and consequences of prison escapes in Western Siberia in 1930–1945, which were a serious problem for the entire Soviet correctional labor system. The reasons behind frequent prison escapes can be summarized as follows: substandard living conditions, a complex production schedule, violent inmates, severe punitive measures for minor crimes, and relatively lenient punishment for escapes. The situation was aggravated by the negligent attitude to the service among wardens, their non-compliance with official discipline and job descriptions, as well as by ineffective use of the agent network. The escapes grew even more frequent in the late 1930s because the number of convicts increased during the Great Terror. The opposite pattern prevailed during World War II due to the general reduction of prison population during the occupation of the European Russia and the fact that some categories of convicts were allowed to enlist in the army. The fugitives posed a real threat to local residents. Once they were free, they committed murders, robberies, and rapes, which significantly worsened the difficult criminal situation in the West Siberian region. The NKVD employees of the Joint State Political Directorate of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR prevented escapes and detained the prisoners. The research objective was to establish the causes, consequences, and various forms of prison escapes in Western Siberia in 1930–1945.
Keywords: causes / consequences / Western Siberia / convicts / Prison Escapes / escapes in Western

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