Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Organization of Prisons in the Romanian Principalities (1831-1862)

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Organization of Prisons in the Romanian Principalities (1831-1862)

Article excerpt


In the early nineteenth century in Western Europe, the civil and criminal law had known significant progress, distributing justice more equitably, and sentencing in compliance with the human condition. A new generation of Romanian young people trained in Western academic centers, inclusive in the law area, as well as some rulers with enlightened views militated for the application of those practical principles in the Romanian society, too. The Organic Regulations, which came into force in 1831, in the Romanian Country and in 1832, in Moldavia, dealing with the organization of various state institutions, provided some provisions also for prisons.

Keywords: correction, imprisonment, forced labor, regulation

Under the Public Assembly decision (the legislative forum, created by the Organic Regulation of March 20, 1831, prisons were no longer administered by the Great Provost Marshal, but by the prisons Magistrate, who was placed in hierarchy after the police Magistrate (in 1859, the old name was replaced with that of administrator of jails and prisons, from 1860 with that of General Director of Prisons, until 1862 when, at the actual union of the two Principalities, the name of general inspector was adopted).

In addition to the task regarding "the protection of a good organization of prisons and mines" the inspector was also in charge with the collection of taxes from princely Gypsies. He had in his subordination an inspector of all prisons, as well as a number of inferior state officials, the equivalent of the later directors of prisons.

Throughout the Principalities there were six prisons: the prison from the capital, from Craiova, Giurgiu, Braila, Ocna-Telega and Ocnele-Mari. The jails in Braila, Giurgiu, Telega and Ocnele-Mari were called "punishment prisons." In the two prisons from the mines, were imprisoned prisoners convicted at hard labor for life, but also for limited time; at Giurgiu and Braila, those condemned to réclusion by public work; in other prisons - those sentenced to correction. Apart from those main prisons, there were also other 14 counties prisons.

After the "Fulfilling orders of the prisons Regulation"1 from 1833, the state budget had to provide the necessary amounts for detainees' food and clothing, lighting and heating, hospital expenses and salary of the six prison officials. The money collected through charity boxes was used in improving the food and drink of the condemned "in meaningful (significant) holly days and Sundays"

For counties jails, the "Magistrature" (mayoralty and municipal councils) of every district capital where a prison was built, had to cover those costs from local funds.

Each prison was administered by an inferior state official, and the mines by an inspector.

Convicts in prisons from Braila, Giurgiu and Bucharest were used to different works: building roads, sewers, buildings, etc., and those from mines, to cutting salt. The latter lived in abandoned mines.

The same "Orders" regulated also construction plans of new buildings for prisons. The building from Telega - for example - had to have two partitions: one for those who, for less guilt, were condemned by law, to forced labour "on term" and the other, for those convicted for life or to death, but their penalty was switched into prison on term, if they were not "killers with deliberation" or with other capital guilt - category of offenders who were imprisoned at the depleted mine from Telega. The jail from Ocnele-Mari was ordained only for those sentenced to hard labor for limited time.

Every prison created also a lonely room (cell) to punish disobedient and rebellious prisoners, one building for the hospital and one for the administrative staff. Until the founding, in 1843, of the first building for prison to forced labor, prisoners slept in abandoned mines, where they had beds with bars, straw bedding. "The stench" (bad air) from those mines was cleaned with fire, and the "other dirt" was removed, at least every two days, with tubs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.