Tag Archives: Psychology

Incremental Progress: Reforming Prisons

Armenia’s prisons are completely overwhelmed. Through the mix of post-soviet views on being tough on crime and the fact that Armenia is a developing country has caused the prisons system to be both overused and under-resourced for the job.

On June 19, Manvel Hazroyan committed suicide at Nubarashen prison, a notoriously overcrowded prison. The 22-year old was serving a sentence of life in prison for a murder occurred during his military service. The Human Rights Ombudsman made a statement of how Hazroyan’s suicide is a reminder of the significant problems within the system, including the completely insufficient one psychologist per 100 prisoners.  While Hazroyan would be eligible for parole after 20 years, other life-termers have not received parole even after serving the 20 years, according to the Armenian Program of Innocence NGO.

Clergyman Rev. Gevorg Hovannisian, recently spoke with all 100 prisoners serving life sentences, and promotes giving convicts an opportunity for repentance and correction. Hovannisian emphasized how each story is unique and each prisoner should be considered uniquely. He even took on the role of developmental psychologist to push for a change in the law that blocks a life sentence for those under the age of 21. His emphasis on rehabilitation is commendable, but there is no response to the question of how Armenia will pay for the rehabilitation programs.

Fortunately, Armenia has agreed to a European-pushed prison reform project. The relatively cheap €300,000 project will decrease overpopulation, promote probationary sentences, and bring the penitentiary system in compliance with European and international laws and treaties.

Ideally, these reforms will help reform some of the prison culture that makes physical abuse a far-too-common occurrence. With less crowding and modern facilities, it’s possible that a higher level of professional will be expected from the prison guards.

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Artsakh: the Pragmatics of Negotiation vs. the Psychology of Sacred Values

I want to bring attention to this article on the value of sacred values and the challenge of resolving intergroup conflicts that is perfectly appropriate for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. To learn more about the mentality, here is an excerpt of an English interview with Artsakh military hero Monte Melkonian.

This lack of sacred values is why outsiders can often easily see a resolution to a conflict, but their suggestions lack cultural understanding and are often rejected. For example, I know a Swiss guy whose solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue was for Israeli to pay all the Palestinians to leave. He had no conception that land could be worth killing or dying for. Unfortunately, for many white people living in developed western countries, the only way they can understand the feelings and the logics of occupation is through fiction. In the discussion with the Swiss guy, it was only in reference to the occupation in Battlestar Galactica did we achieve any headway in the conversation.

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