Prison administration denies inmate release for refusing to show remorse

Remziye Polat, a 25-year-old woman who has been in prison on a terrorism-related conviction for the past nine years, was denied release despite having served her sentence on the grounds that she has refused to show remorse, the Artıgerçek news website reported.

Polat was supposed to have been released on October 11 but is currently in a prison in western İzmir province. The prison administration said Polat could not be released because she had not shown remorse for her crimes.

The prison administration reportedly tried to force Polat to admit remorse, which she refused to do.

The details of Polat’s conviction have not been disclosed; however, she was arrested for membership in a terrorist organizations and sentenced to 12 years, six months in prison. Şükran Öztürk, Polat’s lawyer, said her client had exhibited good behavior in prison and had not received any disciplinary punishments during her time there.

“Keeping my client is unlawful,” said Öztürk. “We will object to the decision to keep her locked up.”

Polat’s father, Şerafettin Polat, said his daughter faced significant pressure in prison. “What is happening is unlawful and shows how much pressure prisoners are under,” he said. Şerafettin Polat added he had not been able to see his daughter for a year due to COVID-19 measures in prisons.

Many political prisoners have been denied release from prison although they have served their full sentence or have been eligible for parole.

According to the Turkish Penal Code, people convicted of membership in a terrorist organization are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence.

In some cases prisoners have not been released because they “failed to show remorse.” Inmates are required by the prison administration to disclose their political beliefs and repent for their crimes.

They are asked personal questions about their political beliefs. If political prisoners do not answer these questions according to prison administrations’ expectations, they are denied release on grounds of “poor conduct.”

Disciplinary punishments, which have increased in prisons in recent years, are also one of the reasons for delays in release.

According to lawyer Tugay Bek from the Adana Bar Association prison administrations arbitrarily used disciplinary punishments to assert control and authority over prisoners. “Sometimes even the smallest thing, like the color of a prisoner’s clothes, can be used as a reason to launch an investigation,” he said. “These investigations result in punishments that prolong prison sentences.”

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