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MARTlN u s

NIJHOFF Europeanjoumat of Crime,

PUBLISHERS Criminal Law and Criminaijustice 21 (2013) 185-206

The Social Life of Illegal Drug Users in Prison:

A Comparative Perspective

Anton Oleinik"''*

a) Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Nevffoundland, P.O. Box 4200,

St. John's, NL, Canada AiC 5S7
b) Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences,
Moscow, the Russian Federation

Different degrees of criminalizadon of illegal drug use influence the overall composition of prison
populations across countries. Individuals convicted of illegal drug-related crimes represent a significant
part of the prison population in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. These convicts are not a part of the
traditional criminal milieu, but a product ofthe perception of certain acts as crimes in particular contexts
(e.g., an increasing social distance, the state's control over potentially dangerous groups, etc.). The
experience of incarceration might cause important changes in their life after release. The idea that prison
contributes to the interiorization of criminal norms rather than preventing deviant behavior in the future
seems especially fruitful in regard to illegal drug users. Elements of prison subculture are described on the
basis of an empirical researcb conducted in 1996-2003 in Russian prisons (^=769 (49 of these were
convicted in relation to illegal drugs) in 2000-2001; and N= 214 (24) in 2003). The social organization of
everyday life of inmates convicted of drug-related offences in Russia, Kazakhstan {N = 3Q6 (76) in 2001)
and Ukraine (W= 208 (26) in 2003) is compared with that of other convicts to test the hypothesis about the
lack of significant differences between the two groups.

Illegal drugs; criminalizadon; prison social climate; prison subculture; comparative approach; Russia;
Kazakhstan; Ukraine

* E-mail; Afirstdraft of this paper was presented at an international conference

on Reducing the Use of Incarceration in June 2007 (Tehran, Iran). The author thanks an anonymous
reviewer of the Europeanjoumai of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaijustice for useful suggestions
and comments on its later version. However, all remaining errors and inaccuracies are solely attrib-
utable to the author.

63 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, oi-^ HOI: l().llti;-i/l.';71K174-21()22()2H

i86 A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 21 {2013) 85-206

1. Introduction: Particularities of Drug-Related Crimes

Drug-related offences differ from other types of crime terrorism, violent crimes
(homicide, rape and robbery), crimes of passion, white-collar crimes, etc. by
the fact that they do not necessarily have victims. All parties involved drug
producers, smugglers, distributors, sellers and users in general make transac-
tions on a voluntary basis. "We are here in the area of free exchanges'.' The volun-
tary character of transactions makes the approach of'natural law* hardly applicable
to the case of drugs.^ Both law and intuitive common sense define murder as a
crime, whereas they may diverge as far as different aspects of drug uses and abuses
are concerned.
Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie argues that the power of labeling drug
use a crime derives from the priority given to the task of strengthening control by
the state over potentially dangerous classes, not from the dangerousness of the
activity itself.^ This reasoning suggests that those convicted of drug-related crimes
violated a law but not a social norm (cf. a murderer transgresses both a formal law
and a universal social norm).
The career ofa drug user diverges accordingly from that ofa typical criminal
personality. Before being apprehended, the former does not necessarily have regu-
lar contacts in the criminal milieu, he or she does not know its particular norms
and values. It is in prison that the drug user gains knowledge of the criminal and
prison subculture. It 'comprises norms, customs, rituals, language and manner-
isms which depart from those required by penal laws and prison rules'.** All coun-
tries with significant prison populations have particular prison and criminal
subcultures embedded in the prison milieu. For instance, the list of elements of the
prison subculture in the US comprises songs ofJohnny Cash (who toured American
prisons in the 1960s), hip-hop music, baggy-style clothes, slang, and movies about
the experience of prison and incarceration (between 1929 and 1995 Hollywood
produced 101 such dramaticfilms,which amounts to 1% of its total production^).

" M. Cusson, Criminologie actuelle {Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1998), p. 50. This assump-
tion does not apply to crimes committed for pecuniary gain to sustain a drug habit
^* The doctrine of natural law argues that definitions of crime and delinquency are entailed by the
nature of the world and the nature of human beings. From the perspective of natural law, common
sense and everyday practices tum out to be the best guiding principles for the justice system (A.-J.
Amaud, ed., Dictionnaire encyclopdique de thorie et de sociologie du droit (Paris: L.G.D.J., 1999), p.199).
^' N. Christie, Crime Control as Industry: Towards GULAGs, Western Style (London: Routledge, 2000).
"** M. Platek, 'Prison Subculture in Poland', 18 International Joumal of Sociology of Law (1990),
459-472; see also V. Anisimkov, Rosstya v zerkaie ugolovnyh traditsii tyurmy (Russia in the mirror of
prison criminal traditions) (St-Petersburg: Yuridicheskii tsentr Press, 2003), p. 12.
^' D. Cheatwood 'Prison movies: Films about adult, male, civilian prisons: 1929-1995', in F. Bailey,
D. Hale (eds). Popular culture, crime, andjustice (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1998), pp. 209-231.
A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumai of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaljustice 27 (2075) 785-206 187

However, the prison subculture in countries using imprisonment in groups

(the barrack system) seems relatively stronger than in countries where prison is
based on confinement in individual cells. The time convicts spend together, day
and night, in the latter case gives them far more occasions for interacting and
elaborating their own codes of conduct.^ Confinement in individual cells allows
some privacy and an escape from the social dimension of everyday life, at least at
night. Three post-Soviet countries, the Russian Federation (RF), Kazakhstan and
Ukraine, which were the primary sites of the proposed analysis, keep most of their
convicts in groups.
For persons convicted of drug-related crimes, prison becomes a place of
re-socialization. Not in the sense of rehabilitation, one of the three missions
assigned to prison (rehabilitation, retribution and custody), but in the sense of
initiation into norms and patterns of the criminal subculture. The more people
pass through penitentiary institutions, the more bearers of the criminal subcul-
ture'.'' The scholarly literature on the criminal subculture and its re-socializing
effects is particularly abundant in the countries that practice imprisonment in
groups.^ Imprisonment in cells prevails in Western Europe and North America
where the academic interest in studying the prison subculture is relatively weaker.
There are several notable exceptions, however, namely a famous study of the
'society of captives' in the United States and the literature that it has inspired.^
The proposed analysis aims to answer the research question as to whether the
social behavior of individuals convicted of drug-related crimes in prison differs
from that of other convicts. If the above hypothesis about re-socialization is true,
then the comparison of two groups of prisoners, those convicted of drug-related
crimes and those convicted of other crimes (all crimes combined), will not pro-
duce substantially (and statistically) significant differences. In what follows I will
test this hypothesis and simultaneously describe the legal framework related to
uses and abuses of drugs as well as penitentiary systems in the three above men-
tioned countries.
In Section 2 I will discuss sources of information, both primary and secondary,
used in this study for purposes of description and analysis. Section 3 has a descrip-
tive character: penal policies in regard to drug users are compared, with emphasis
on their impact on crime rates. A short overview of the institutional organization
of penitentiary systems in the three countries follows. In Section 4 I compare the

8' A. Oleinik, Organized Crime, Prison and Post-Soviet Societies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 45-48.
" V. Anisimkov,/oc.df.,p. 176.
*' See, for instance, an account of the situation in post-socialist Poland: M. Platek, loc. cit.
^' G.M.Sykes, The Society of Captives: A Study of aMaximum Security Prison {?nnceton,ti]:Pr'mceton
University Press, 1958); A. Liebling, Prison and their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality,
andPrison Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
i88 A. Oieinik / European Joumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 21 {20t3) 185-206

group of inmates convicted of drug-related crimes with that of other inmates

using a series of social indicators highlighting the organization of everyday life
and their behavioral patterns. This allows testing the hypothesis about the social
closeness of the two groups as a result of the progressive re-socialization of mem-
bers of the former group. Some normative implications of the proposed analysis
are put forward in the Conclusion.

2. Sources of Information
This paper is based on primary and secondary sources of information. The list of
secondary sources includes official statistics on the number of registered crimes,
prison population rates (PPR), the number of persons convicted of drug-related
crimes. I also refer to legal documents (Penal Codes and anti-drug laws).
A series of surveys conducted in penitentiaries of the Russian Federation (two
surveys), Kazakhstan and Ukraine in thefirsthalf of the 2000s serve as a source of
primary data. In all cases cluster sampling techniques were used. The penitentiary
administration of a particular country gave permission to visit prisons located in a
particular region or a number of regions. No randomization at this stage was pos-
sible for administrative and financial reasons (the geographical scope of Russia,
for instance, makes extremely difficult geographical cluster sampling even in the
case of public opinion polls: as of today, this country has 83 regions). However,
the choice of a unit(s), otryad, to be surveyed within the particular prison was
randomized. The otryad is commonly composed of individuals sentenced for
various crimes (i.e., the variable 'article of Penal Code under which one was con-
victed' does not necessarily explain his or her placement in a particular unit).
As for the sentence conditions, usloviya (Article 87 of the Criminal and Correctional
Code (Ugolovno-hpolniteliiyi Kodeks) of the Russian Federation, for instance,
defines three types of conditions: regular, strict and facilitated), they do vary
across the detachments. The detachment was randomly chosen among those in
regular sentence conditions (the absolute majority). When visiting individuals
placed in strict conditions was allowed, efforts were made to interview a few of
them too.
All members of this unit available at the time of my visit were requested to take
part in the survey. The participation had a voluntary character, yet the decision to
administer the survey in groups (questionnaires werefilledout individually but at
a session where everyone was present) contributed to extremely low levels of
refusals, varying from zero to 15%. As a rule, a minimum of 30-35 inmates per peni-
tentiaryfilledout the questionnaires. All completed questionnaires were simulta-
neously submitted to the researcher. This, together with the fact that no
information revealing the identity of the participant was requested, ensured the
protection of anonymity. No staff member was present inside the room where the
A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaljustice 2; {2013) 185-206 189

survey took place. In-depth interviews, also conducted by the author, comple-
mented the data collected through the surveys.
The collection of all primary data by the same person helps control the impact
of the researcher's personality, although this might decrease reliability of the pre-
sented findings. The researcher's personality has an especially important impact
in the context of total institutions where speculations that one is working for the
administration can destroy trust necessary for obtaining valid results. The author
was introduced to inmates as an independent university researcher and, in fact, a
reputation of reliability has been built in the process of the survey as the informa-
tion freely circulates in the post-Soviet prison world by word of mouth and other
informal yet sometimes highly sophisticated and efficient channels (according to
an informant, a message originating in Moscow can easily reach the region of
Arkhangelsk located 1,500 km North of the capital city in just one or two days'").
The survey in Russia was organized in two waves, in 2000-2001 and in 2003." In
2000-200129 penitentiaries {N= 769) all regimes, minimum, medium and max-
imum security, combined located in five regions (Ivanovo, Moscow, Murmansk,
Perm and Sverdlovsk) were visited. In 2003, the survey was conducted a second
time in six penitentiaries in the Moscow region {N= 214). The sample in Kazakhstan
is composed of 12 penitentiaries located in two regions (Kazakhstan includes in
total 14 regions), Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk) and Akmola (Af=396). Finally, the
Ukrainian sample included five prisons located in the region of Kharkiv. A caveat
concerning the limited representativeness of the sample in this country has to be
put forward. First, the data collected in one region can hardly be generalized to
the country as a whole (Ukraine has 24 regions). Second, I did not manage to ran-
domize the choice of respondents within a particular penitentiary as a sample
of inmates who took part in a cultural event (a theatre show) filled out
The data used in the reported study have an important limitation which the
reader has to bear in mind when considering its outcomes. The available data do
not differentiate between drug-users and drug-traffickers: both of these categories
are included in the category 'persons convicted for illegal drug-related offenses'.
On the one hand, the existing literature suggests that in the West drug-users are
often involved in drug dealing. This involvement regular or occasional
allows them to generate personal income and to cover the cost of their own drug
use. A study conducted in Canada reports that every fifth active drug user engaged

"" A. Oleinik, loc. cit., pp. 60-61.

'" Results of the 1996-1999 wave were discussed in detail in A. Oleinik, loc. cit.
'^' The show was attended by inmates placed in different detachments, representatives of one of
them were invited to stay after its end and assist in the research in this case a number of questions
dealt with the show and its perception by convicts.
190 A. Oleinik /Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaijustice 21 {2013) 185-206

in drug dealing during the six months prior to their interview.'^ An American
study produced similarfigures:twenty-nine percent of participants reported deal-
ing an illegal drug that they consume in the past two months.'* The empirical
evidence in this regard in the post-Soviet countries is scarcer, but it also suggests
that drug dealers turn often out to be current or past drug users. Namely, drug
users can commonly be found at the lowest and most exposed to law enforcement
levels ofthe distribution system.'^
On the other hand, the law both in the West and the post-Soviet countries treats
drug users differently from drug dealers. Those who fall in the latter category are
expected to receive heaviersanctions. In reality, however, the situation is clear-cut
neither in the West nor in the post-Soviet countries. For instance, an analysis of
trends in drug user and drug dealer arrest rates in Australia produces a rather
unexpected result: provider-type offences lead to fewer arrests (20-30% of all
drug-related arrests) than consumer-type offenses (70-80%).'^ A case study ofthe
relevant law enforcement practices in a Russian region suggests an opposite pic-
ture: the number of drug dealers receiving prison sentences is almost twice as
high as the number of prosecuted drug users.'^ Nevertheless, it remains unclear
whether thesefindingscould be generalized to other Russian regions.
In these circumstances, I considered the fact that most respondents failed to
clearly indicate the particular drug-related offense for which they had been sen-
tenced'* as a factor that does not undermine the overall validity ofthe findings
reported in this paper. The principal objective, it should be recalled, consists in
demonstrating the re-socializing effects of prison incarceration as a result of
which people, who committed victimless crimes, interiorize criminal norms and
values. The existing contradictions in the law and in law enforcement practices

'3* T. Kerr, W. Small, C. Johnston, K. Li, J.S.G. Montaner and E. Wood, 'Characteristics of Injection
Drug Users Who Participate in Drug Dealing: Implications for Drug Policy*, ^oJournal ofPsychoactive
Drugs (2008), 147-152, at p. 150.
"** S.J. Semple, S.A. Strathdee, T. Volkmann, J. Zians and T.L. Patterson, ""High on My Own Supply":
Correlates of Drug Dealing among Heterosexually Identified Methamphetamine Users', 20 The
Americanjoumal on Addictions (2011), 516-524, at p. 518.
'5' L. Paoli, 'Drug trafcking in Russia: A form of organized crime?', yijoumal of Drug Issues (2001),
1005-1034, at pp.1016-1019; R.E. Booth , J. Kennedy, T. Brewster and 0. Semerlk, 'Drug Injectors and
Dealers in Odessa, Ukraine', ^^Joumal of Psychoactive Drugs (2003), 419-426, at p. 422.
'* D.A. Bright and A. Ritter, 'Australian Trends in Drug User and Drug Dealer Arrest Rates: 1993 to
2006-07', 18 Psychiatry, Psychoiogy and Law {2011), 190-201.
'^' V.l. Kuznetsov, 'Primenenie sudami Irkutskoi oblasti "antinarkoticheskikh" statei Ugolovnogo
Kodeksa RF' (The application of'anti-drug* articles ofthe Penal Code ofthe RF by the courts in the
region of Irkutsk), 2 Sibirskiiyuridicheskii vestnik (2006), p. 73.
8> One reason for this failure refers to the grouping of provider-related and consumer-related
offenses in a single article (for example, in Russia Article 218 of the Penal Code refere to drug-users,
whereas Article 228.1 refers to drug dealere).
A. Oleinik / European Joumal of Crime, Criminal Law and CriminalJustice 21 (2013) 185-206 191

make a finer distinction desirable (especially in further research), but not abso-
lutely necessary.'^

3. Anti-Drug Laws and Policies

The three countries under consideration adapted restrictive drug policies. They dif-
fer in degree rather than in kind. An overview of Penal Code norms referring to
drug-related crimes and anti-drug laws show a high degree of consistency between
the three post-Soviet countries (Table l).^ Variability concerns mainly the amount
of fines, which reflects differences in income levels (all fines are converted into
euros using the exchange rate in 2007; in legal documents they are set in national
currencies). When interpreting these figures, it is worth keeping in mind that in 2001
Gross National Income per capita amounted to 815 in Ukraine, 1507 in Kazakhstan
and 1987.5 in the Russian Federation (converted to euro from 2007 US$ using
yearly average exchange rates).^' So the ratio was 1:1.85:2.44 (1:1.94:2.96 in 2006).

Table 1. Drug-related offences and corresponding punishments: a comparison of policies

in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Type of offence Penal Code of the Penal Code of the Penal Code of
Russian Federation Republic of Ukraine
Unlawful purchase. Substantial quantity Substantial quan- Restriction of
storage, transporta- (see Table 3): fine tity:fineup to freedom up to 3
tion, production and up to the equivalent 55700 OR years OR imprison-
processing of drugs of1150 OR compulsory work up ment up to
or narcotic sub- compulsory work up to 2 years OR 3 years
stances (with no to 2 years OR imprisonment up to Substantial quan-
intention to sell) imprisonment up to 3 years tity: imprisonment
3 years Very large quantity: from 2 up to 5 years
Very large quantity: imprisonment from Very large quantity:
imprisonment from 3 up to 7 years imprisonment from
3 up to 10 years OR (Article 259!, 2592) 5 up to 8 years
fine up to 14350 (Article 309)
(Article 228)

'3' Indeed, the eventual decriminalization of drug use also undermines the character of drug traf-
ficking as a crime. Being decriminalized, drugs are a regular commodity like many others.
^' This description provides a snapshot of the situation in the first half of the 2caos when the sur-
veys were conducted.
2" World Bank, World Development Indicators, available online at:
192 A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumai of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaljustice 21 {2013) 185-206

Table 1. {Con't).

Type of offence Penal Code of the Penal Code of the Penal Code of
Russian Federation Republic of Ukraine
Unlawful production Imprisonment from Substantial quan- Imprisonment from
and sale of drugs or 4 up to 8 years tity: imprisonment 3 up to 8 years
narcotic substances Substantial quan- from 7 up to Substantial quan-
tity: imprisonment 12 years tity: imprisonment
from 5 up to Very large quantity: from 5 up to
12 years WITH a imprisonment from 10 years WITH
fine up to 14350 10 up to 15 years seizure
Very large quantity: (Article 259.3, Very large quantity:
imprisonment from 259-4) imprisonment from
8 up to 20 years 8 up to 12 years
WITH afineup to WITH seizure
28 700 (Article (Article 307)
Transgression of Fine up to 8615 Fine up to 2800 Fine up to 150 OR
norms regulating the OR imprisonment OR imprisonment restriction of
turnover of drugs or up to 3 years up to I year freedom up to 4
narcotic substances (Article 228.2) (Article 265) years OR imprison-
ment up to 3 years
(Article 320)
Theft of drugs or Imprisonment from Imprisonment from Imprisonment from
narcotic substances 3 up to 7 years 3 up to 7 years 3 up to 6 years
(Article 229) (Article 260) (Article 308)
Involving a new Restriction of Restriction of Restriction of
person in drug freedom up to freedom up to freedom up to
consumption 3 years OR impris- 3 years OR impris- 5 years OR impris-
onment up to 5 onment up to onment from 2
years (Article 230) 4 years (Article 261) up to 5 years
(Article 315)
Unlawful cultivation Fine up to 8615 Fine up to 4000 Fine up to 150 OR
of plants containing OR imprisonment OR imprisonment restriction of
drugs up to 2 years up to 2 years freedom up to
Substantial quan- Substantial quan- 3 years
tity: imprisonment tity: imprisonment Substantial quan-
from 3 up to 8 years from 3 up to 8 years tity: imprisonment
(Article 231) (Article 262) from 3 up to
7 years (Article 310)
Organization of Imprisonment up to Imprisonment up to Imprisonment from
drug dens 4 years (Article 232) 4 years (Article 264) 3 up to 5 years
(Article 317)
A. Oieinik / EuropeanJoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and CriminalJustice 21 (2013) 185-206 193

Table 1. {Con't).
Type of offence Penal Code of the Penal Code of the Penal Code of
Russian Federation Republic of Ukraine
Falsification of Fine up to 2300 Fine up to 2800 Fine up to 150 OR
documents entitling OR compulsory OR compulsory restriction of
the bearer to get work up to 1 year work up to 2 years freedom up to 3
drugs or narcotic OR imprisonment years (Article 318,
substances up to 2 years 319)
Unlavi^l turnover of Imprisonment up to Fine up to 530 OR
tools used in 6 years (Article 263) restriction of
processing of drugs freedom up to 3
and narcotic years (Article 313)
Smuggling in or out Imprisonment from Imprisonment up to Imprisonment from
drugs and narcotic 3 up to 7 years OR a 5 years (Article 3 up to 8 years
substances fine up to 28700 250.1) (Article 305)
(Article 188.2)

The similarity of legal frameworks with regard to drug-related offences does not
necessarily involve uniformity in tbe application of tbe law. Tbe ratio of drug-
related crimes to tbe total number of registered crimes varies over time and across
countries (Table 2). In the Russian Federation, the share of drug-related offences
rapidly increased during the 1990s, but it bas been declining since tbe start of tbe
new century. Tbe official data for Kazakbstan sbow a similar pattern, yet at tbe
peak of this trend, in 2000, illegal drug transactions constituted almost every fifth
crime.22 In Ukraine the upward trend has been less manifest, yet it continues to
tbe present. Tbe lack of agreement as to bow to enforce anti-drug laws aggravates
controversies related to tbe labeling of drug abuse and dependence a crime. So,
elements of arbitrariness seem inevitable botb at tbe stage of drafting tbe laws and
that of enforcing them.
Practices not uncommon in the post-Soviet context of counting on anti-
drug laws if the police cannot collect enough evidence about a suspect's involve-
ment in more serious crimes serves a practical illustration of the arbitrariness of law
enforcement. If the suspect, who is believed dangerous by tbe police, cannot be sent
to jail due to lack of evidence, an accusation of illegal drug possession sometimes
becomes a strategy of'last resort' for putting bim or ber bebind bars.^^ In contrast to

^^' The author thanks Gesa Walcher of Penal Reform International for providing some secondary
data on the Kazakhstan case.
^ ' Similar practices have also been used in the US, at least in the past, where Al Capone was eventu-
ally jailed for tax evasion, not for the organization of a criminal syndicate, see P. Buckley and
194 A. Oleinik / European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaljustice 21 {2013) 185-206

Table 2. Total number of registered crimes, thousands, selected years.

1990 1995 1998 1999 2000 2001 2003 2005 2006

Russian 1839.5 2755.7 2581.9 3001.7 2952.4 2968.3 2756.4 3554-7 3855
including 16.3 79.9 190.1 216.4 243.6 241.6 181.7 175.2 212
% of drug- 0.1 2.9 7.4 7.2 8.25 8.1 6.6 4.9 5.5
Kazakhstan 173-9* 1839 142.1 139.4 150.8 152.2 118.5 109 3 105
Including 4.6 13.2 18.7 21.1 23.3 17.4 11.7 5.3 6
% of drug- 2.6 7.2 13.2 15.1 15.5 11.4 9.9 4.9 5.7
Ukraine 369.8 641.9 576 559 5678 5i4-6 566.4 491-8 428.2
Including 7.2 38.2 39.9 42.7 45-75 47-9 57-4 65 64
% of drug- 1.9 5.95 6.9 7.6 8.1 9.3 10.1 13.2 15

Sources: Federai'nayaSluzhbaGosudarstvennoiStatistiki.Aoss/istsfa/s/cAest'ezAeOAiA: (Russian

Statisticai Yearbook) (Moscow, 2006) Table 10.1; Y. Gilinski, Kriminotogiya: Teoriya, istoriya, empiri-
cheskaya baza, sotsial'nyikontrol'{Cx\xnmo\o^: Theory, History, Empirical Base and Social Control)
(St Petersburg: Piter, 2002), p. 278; Agenstvo Respubliki Kazakhstan po statistike, Statisticheskii
Ezhegodnik Kazakhstana (Statistical Yearbook of Kazakhstan) (Almaty, 2002), p. 126; A. Samailov
{ed.), Kazakhstan tggi-2002 (Almaty, 2002), p. 195; Derzhavnyi Komitet statistiki Ukrainy, Statistuchnyi
Shchorichnyk Ukrairry2005 (Statistical Yearbook of Ukraine 2005) (Kyiv: Konsultant 2006), pp. 515-516;
Derzhavnyi Komitet statistiki Ukrainy (available online at:
Data for 1991.

the task of looking for hard evidence of the suspect's involvement in a serious
crime, that of proving his or her possession of illegal drugs taking into consider-
ation the minimal quantities specified in the by-laws (the 'substantial quantity' can
be as small as o.oooi gram in the case of LSD) seems far easier. A 'thief-in-law',
i.e., a highly respectable individual outlaw in the Russian milieu (their high status
makes it unnecessary for them to transgress the law on their own), witnesses:

M. Meese, The Financial Front in the Global War on Terrorism', in R. Howard and R. Sawyer (eds).
Defeating Terrorism: Shaping the New Security Environment (Guilford, GT: McGraw-Hill, 2004), p. 58.
A. Oleinik/Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminai Law and Criminaijustice 21 (2015) 185-206 195

'They (the police) put stealthily illegal drugs or weapons to many thieves (in-law)... I met here
(in prison) Khobot (another thief-in-law, A.O.), he didn't ever smoke even hashish! Yet he was
sentenced to three years of prison. He was really furious: other thieves-in-law got six months
of prison at maximum in a similar situation. He doesn't smoke even poppy, not to speak about
heroin. They pretend to have found heroin in his pocket...' (October 2000, a high-security
prison in the region of Murmansk).

It is worth mentioning that the minimal quantities are specified by decrees ofthe
government, not by the law. They are subject to more frequent changes, thereby
providing the executive with a venue for exercising the power of labeling (Table 3).
Even the procedure for calculating the quantities varies. The 'substantial' and
'very large' quantities replaced 'average' ones in Russian law enforcement prac-
tices in 2006.
An analysis ofthe dynamics ofthe share of prisoners convicted of drug related
offences (Table 4) shows further divergence in the policies of law enforcement.
Chances of receiving a sentence in cases involving drug-related offences are higher
than average in Kazakhstan whereas in the Russian Federation such cases result in
a sentence less frequently than average. This divergence might be due to different
priorities set in police investigations, depending on the type of offense to variability

Table 3. Quantities of illegal drugs the possession of which leads to criminal prosecution,
selected illegal drugs, the Russian Federation, 2004 and 2006.

Quantities (g) May 2004 Quantities (g) February 2006

Average Substantial Very large

Marijuana, dried 2 6 100

Marijuana, non-dried 14 n.a. n.a.
Cocaine 0.15 0.5 5
LSD 0.0003 0.0001 0.005
Opium 0.5 1 25
Hashish 0.5 2 25
Heroin 0.1 0.5 2.5
Sources: Postanovlenie Pravitel'stva Rossiiskoi Federatsii N0.231 ot 6.5.2004 ob utverzhdenii srednih
razovyh doz narkoricheskih i psikhotropnyh veshchestv dlya tselei statei 228, 228.1 and 229
Ugolovnogo Kodeksa Rossiiskoj Federatsii (Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation
N0.231fromMay 5,2004 on average doses of narcotic and psychotropic materials specified in Articles
228,228.1 and 229 of Penal Code ofthe Russian Federation) and Postanovlenie Pravitel'stva Rossiiskoi
Federatsii N0.76 ot 7.2.2006 ob utverzhdenii krupnogo i osobo krupnogo razmerov narkoricheskih i
psikhotropnyh veshchestv dlya tselei statei 228, 228.1 and 229 Ugolovnogo Kodeksa Rossiiskoi
Federatsii (Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation N0.76 from February 7, 2006 on
substantial and very large quantities of narcotic and psychotropic materials specified in Articles 228,
228.1 and 229 of Penal Code ofthe Russian Federation).
ig6 A. Oleinik / European Joumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 2t {2013) 185-206

Table 4. Number of convicted, thousands, selected years.

1990 1995 1998 1999 2000 2001 2003 2005

Russian 537.6 1035.8 1071.1 1223.3 1183.6 1244.2 773-9 878.9

Including 7 38.6 101.5 115-2 991 126.9 84.4 61.2
convicted of
% 1-3 3-7 95 94 8.4 10.2 10.9 7
Kazakhstan n.a. 93 58.4 66.3 78 70.9 50.3 38.4
Including n.a. 8.3 10.2 15 198 13 9-3 n.a.
convicted of
% n.a. 8.9 17-5 22.6 25.4 18.4 18.5 n.a.
Ukraine 104.2 212.9 232.6 222.2 230.9 202.6 201.1 176.9
Including n.a. n.a. 21.6 24.4 25 25.4 30 32.3
convicted of
% n.a. n.a. 9-3 11 10.8 12.5 14.9 18.3

Sources: Federal'naya Sluzhba Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki, loc. cit., Table 10.6; Y. Gilinski, he cit,
p. 279; Ministertstvo Vnutrennih Del, Prestupnost' i pravonarusheniya: 13^6-2000 (Crime and
Delinquency: 1996-2000) (Moscow, 2001), p. 156; Agenstvo Respubliki Kazakhstan po statistike, loc.
cit., p. 127; Agenstvo Respubliki Kazakhstan po statistike, Statisticheskii Ezhegodnik Kazakhstana
(Statistical Yearbook of Kazakhstan) (Almaty, 1999), pp. uo-111; Derahavnyi Komitet statistiki
Ukrainy, loc. cit, p. 516; Derzhavnyi Komitet statistiki Ukrainy (available online at: http://www; Verkovnyi Sud Ukrainy, Analiz stanu zdiisnennya sudochinstva sudamy zagal'noi
yurisdiksii v 2005 r. (Survey of court decisions in 2005) (Kyiv, 2005); Verkovnyi Sud Ukrainy, Sudymist'
osib ta priznachenrrya mir kriminat'nogo pokaranr^a u 2003 r. (Convictions and criminal penalties in
2003) (Kyiv, 2003), Verkovnyi Sud Ukrainy, Rozglyad sudamy sprav pro zlochiny u sferi obigu
narkotuchr^h zasobiv u 2001-2002 r. (Legal practice in regard to drug-related offences) (Kyiv, 2002).
Estimated figures in italics (incomplete data on the number of some drug-related offences).

in the level of tolerance to particular delinquent acts. At any rate, the divergent
trends confirm that law enforcement in the area of drug-related offences depends
less on their nature than on priorities in social control and a number of other
external factors. In function ofa particular context, the same use of drugs might or
might not lead to a sentence, all other things, e.g., the legal framework, being equal.
From the point of view ofa drug user or addict, the chances of landing in prison
are the question of'good' or 'bad' luck. Unlike professional criminals, they do not
see any reason in including prison in their 'curriculum' and they do not prepare
themselves for such 'course'. After arriving in prison, they must start to adapt to a
A. Oteinik / European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and CriminalJustice 21 (2013) 185-206 197

new life and to learn new norms of behavior. Prison has its own 'constitution' com-
posed of both formal and informal norms. The latter often contradict the former
(set in the Correctional Code, by-laws and internal regulations). Hence, a significant
part of the population its relative size can be assessed with the help of Prison
Population Rate (PPR, the number of inmates per 100 000 of the national popula-
tion) lives under a constitution which departs from the official one (Table 5).
Prison subculture as an alternative system to officially imposed norms reaches
a high level of sophistication in post-Soviet countries, especially in Russia. Its ori-
gins go back to the 1930s, i.e., to the period of large-scale mass imprisonment in
labor camps. The administration was unable to control such large prison popula-
tions day and night. Informal leaders organized in a hierarchy topped by
thieves-in-law^* started to perform functions of everyday management and

Table 5. Relative size and composition of prison populations, 2006.

% of prisoners convicted of drug related crimes

Russian Republic of T lUr

UKI aine
Ifederation Kazakhstan

Official Survey Official Survey Official Survey

data sample data sample data sample

n.a. 6.4 n.a. 19.2 n.a. 12.5

% of female prisoners 7.0 19.7 7.0 3.8 6.3 22.2
19 years old or less 22.7
15 9 5.1 1.6
20-25 years old 127.2 25.5 40.1 24.4
26-30 years old 22.9 25.5 I31.1
31-35 years old 11.9 14.7 26.7 20.7
36-40 years old 53.6 9.4 n.a. 11.4 I10.9
41-45 years old 6.3 9 1.5 5.2
46-50 years old 3.4 3.3 1 2.6
51-60 years old 3.5 1.1
n R
J 2.1
61 years old and older 1.3 0.3 0.5 1 1.6
Sources: Federal'naya Sluzhba Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki,toe.cit. Table 10.10; R. Walmsley, World
Prison Population List [6th edition) (London: International Center for Prison Studies, 2006);
Derzhavna Penitentsiama Sluzhba Ukrainy (available online at:
control/main/uk/index); International Centre For Prison Studies (available online at: http://vvTvw Dates of survey: Russian Federation, December 2005; Republic of Kazakhstan,
August 2006; Ukraine, September 2006; total number of prisoners: Russian Federation, 869 814;
Republic of Kazakhstan, 49 292; Ukraine, 165 716; PPR: Russian Federation, 611; Republic of
Kazakhstan, 340; Ukraine, 356.

See more on informal leaders and theirjustice in A. Oleinik, loc. cit., pp. 71-101.
198 A. Oieinik / European Joumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 21 {2013) 185-206

conflict resolution enforcing particular norms, the ponyatiya. The ponyatiya

derived from criminal traditions and common sense (from this point of view, one
can argue that they lie close to the logic of natural law), in contrast to the codified
system of rules and norms imposed by the penitentiary administration.
In most cases those convicted of drug-related crimes serve their sentences
together with those convicted of other crimes. Even if the latter tend to be sent to
particular penitentiaries (e.g., specialized labor camps in Kazakhstan), the separa-
tion is never perfect. Professional criminals and other delinquents, including drug
users, interact on a daily basis. To adjust one's actions to others' behavior, they
need to refer to the same norms.
Officially imposed norms can hardly serve this purpose since inmates associate
them with punishment and lost freedom. For this reason, the rejection of official
norms characterizes everyday life of inmates in most total institutions,^^ even if
drug users and drug addicts are housed separate from other delinquents. Social
action in prison appears embedded in t\\^ ponyatiya and the mechanisms for their
enforcement personified by informal leaders. 'Action is "social" insofar as its sub-
jective meaning takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in
its course'.26 If both parties of a conflict respect the ponyatiya, this gives them a
chance forfindinga common language and mutual understanding.

4. Comparing the Social Organization of Two Groups of Inmates

The idea of interiorizaron of the ponyatiya by everybody who has acquired expe-
rience of life in total institutions, which leads to the spread of a particular subcul-
ture in the society as a whole, seems neither new nor too radical. For instance, Yuri
Levada and his associates indicate that the experience of compulsory military ser-
vice in the Soviet army contributed to re-socialization of young men in the sense
of their rejection of official values and norms. Recruits must learn to substitute
informal norms, this learning is commonly called dedovshchina (the priority of
submission to the older rather than the formal superior) in post-Soviet countries,
for official ones deriving from army regulations.^'
The scope of this study does not allow me to analyze mechanisms of this re-
socialization in total institutions, specifically in prison. The question as to whether

^^* 1. Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968).
2*' M. Weber, Econorrvy and Society: An Outline of Interpretative Sociology VoL 1 {New York, NY:
Bedminster Press, 1968), p. 4.
" ' Y. Levada, Entre pass et l'avenir: L'homme sovitique ordinaire. Enqute (Paris: Presses de la
Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1993), pp. 139-144, see also F. Dauc and E. Sieca-
Koztowski (eds), Dedovshchina in Post-Soviet Military: Hazing of Russian Army Conscripts in a
Comparative Perspective (Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2006).
A. Oteinik / European Joumai of Crime, Criminal Law and CriminalJustice 21 {2013) 185-206 199

the re-socialization results from 'contamination' of newcomers by their contact

with professional criminals^^ or from the institutional organization of total insti-
tutions, e.g. particular characteristics of power relationships causing the rejection
of official authority by those subject to it,^^ calls for additional inquiries. My task
will simply consist in testing the hypothesis about the similarity of social organi-
zation of two groups of inmates: those convicted of drug-related crimes and those
convicted of all other crimes combined.
The separation between the two groups is never perfect. They partly overlap in
at least three manners. First, drug users often commit other offenses, e.g., thefts, in
order to sustain their drug habit. According to the Cambridge Study in Delinquent
Development, drug use is one predictor of a criminal career.^" In the UK, 65% of
all arrestees tested positive for drugs in 1999-2002.^^ In the reported study, the per-
centage of respondents convicted of other crimes in addition to drug-related ones
varies from 5% (in Kazakhstan) to 21% (in Russia in 2003).
Second, as in the above discussed case of the thief-in-law, non-drug users can
nevertheless be sentenced for drug-related offences. The procedure chosen for
placing the respondent in one of the two groups, when the group of drug offenders
is composed exclusively of those who have only an illegal drug-related sentence,
addresses thefirstof these issues only partly (addressing the second would require
access to the personal data of convicts), which somewhat limits validity of
reported findings.
The level of measurement of several variables relevant for testing this hypoth-
esis is nominal, which explains the use of chi-square (x^) statistics, unsophisti-
cated and imperfect, yet the most appropriate measure of association or the lack
thereof between the membership in one of the two groups of prisoners and a
series of social indicators describing the organization of everyday interactions.
Statistically significant values of x^ are reported separately for sections of the
tables corresponding to particular countries (i.e., the unit of analysis is the group
of convicts in a particular country, individual convicts being the unit of observa-
tion). The choice ofx^ statistics can be further justified by the fact that I aim to
demonstrate the absence of association, whereas the 'null hypothesis' states that

^ ' This thesis is explored in V. Anisimkov, toe. cit

29> See A. Oleinik, he. cit
3' D. Farrington, J. Coid, L. Hamett, D. Jolliffe, N. Soteriou, R. Turner and D. West, 'Criminal Careers
and Life Success: New Findings From the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Behavior', Findings Volume
281 (London: The Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, 2006).
^" K. Holloway, T. Bennett and C. Lower, Trends in Drug Use and Offending: the Results of the
NEW-ADAM Programme 1999-2002', Findings Volume 21g (London: The Home Office, Research,
Development and Statistics Directorate, 2004).
200 A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaijustice 2i (2013) 185-206

the association exists (x^ statistics are powerful enough to detect the association
yet it fails to assess its strength and direction).
Let us examine whether the social indicators show statistically significant vari-
ability between the two groups of prisoners in all four cases (I consider results of
the two surveys conducted in Russian prisons separately for the sake of increasing
the reliability of findings). For instance, both drug offenders and other offenders
equally reject the system of official authority (members ofthe penitentiary admin-
istration are vested in this type of authority). Theirwillingness to take part in mass
protest actions does not vary across the groups (Table 6). Only in one case (the
Ukrainian sample) the modal answer is 'no',^^ whereas in the three other cases a
majority of respondents from both groups declare their readiness to join mass
protest actions either unconditionally or on the condition that they are led by
persons respectable in the prison milieu. It is worth noting the projective charac-
ter of this question: such actions are explicitly prohibited by the law (Article 321
'Disorganization ofthe work of penitentiary institutions' ofthe Penal Code ofthe
Russian Federation; Article 392 ofthe Penal Code of Ukraine and Article 361 ofthe
Penal Code ofthe Republic of Kazakhstan). The readiness to participate in prison
riots mainly serves as a proxy indicator for the perception of official authority and
the degree of obedience/disobedience to its representatives.
A second indicator useful for evaluating the perception of official authority
refers to the level of trust in the penitentiary administration. Both Russian surveys
show no statistically significant difference between the group convicted of
drug related crimes and that of other convicts (Table 7; here and in what follows

Table 6. Are you ready to take part in mass protest actions? % of valid responses.
Russia Russia Kazakhstan Ukraine
2003 2000-2001 2001 2003

N=24* N= 190 yv=49* yV=72O N=7e* N=320 N=26* N=iS2

Yes 17-39 22.65 2.13 12.86 13-16 14.01 3-85 3-43
It depends on 39-13 39-23 51-06 50.43 67.11 53-19 30.77 16
It depends on 21.74 6.63 14-89 10.57 6.58 10.51 3-85 1.71
No 8.69 13-26 19-15 13-43 2.63 10.19 42.31 60.57
Don't know 13.04 18.23 12.77 12.71 10.53 12.10 19-23 18.29
Missing 4-35 4.97 4.26 2.86 0 1-91 0 4
* Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.

^2' The analysis of some other indicators also suggests the 'deviant' character ofthe Ukrainian case.
This might be due to particularities ofthe sample in Ukraine mentioned in Section 2.
A. Oleinik/European Joumal of Crime, Criminal Law and CriminalJustice 21 {2013) 185-206 201

Table 7. Do you trust the prison administration? % of valid responses.

Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001 Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

N=2^* N = 1 9 0 AT = 4 9 '* yv=72o N='j&* N=32O N=26 * N=i82

Yes 36.36 22. 7 27.66 19-23 17.81** 28.62 40*** 73-53
No 63.64 77' 3 72.34 80.77 82.19 71-38 60 26.47
Missing: 909 1 6 . 56 4.26 6.51 4.11 5-26 30 7.06
* Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.

y2 _ ().57 at p = 0.002.

Statistically significant differences are indicated in italics). In Kazakhstan and

Ukraine the two groups differ (in the former case at the margin of statistical
significance), yet, somewhat counterintuitively, drug users tend to trust the prison
administration even less than other convicts! They seem to exercise a kind of ret-
ribution toward official authorities for the arbitrary definition of their crime. The
question of institutional trust at the higher level, namely trust in the national gov-
ernment, has the same pattern of responses (Table 8): convicts for drug-related
crimes either do not differ from the rest of the prison population or trust the gov-
ernment even less than their fellow inmates.
As for the endorsement of the ponyatiya (the alternative to the official norms
imposed by state representatives) by the informal leaders in the prison milieu,
convicts for drug-related crimes are again on the same side as the rest of the prison
population. For instance, they appear in full support of one of the key elements of
the informal constitution of life in reclusin, the norm 'Don't do anything that
might be harmful to all of us' (Table 9).^^ The respect given to the unofficial con-
stitution at the expense of the official one is further exemplified by the high level
of trust in the informal leaders. Members of both groups of respondents trust the
informal leaders more than members of the prison administration in all countries
except Ukraine (Table 10). Only in one case (the 2000-2001 Russian survey) there
is a statistically significant difference in the level of support given to the informal
leaders between the two groups.
More general social indicators, like the level of generalized trust (the percent-
age of those who believe that 'people in general can be trusted') and the level of
trust in fellow inmates (the famous Prisoner's Dilemma illustrates the lack
thereof), also show a high degree of agreement between members of the two
groups. Except for Ukraine, where convicts for drug-related crimes trust other

33) For a list of particular/jonyatiya and the level of support that inmates give to each of them see V.
Anisimkov, loc. cit., p. 28; A. Oleinik, loc. cit., p. 80.
202 A. Oleinik / European Journal of Crime, Criminal IMW and Criminaljustice 21 {2013) 185-206

Table 8. Do you trust the government? % of valid responses.

Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001I Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

yv=24 N= 190 N=49* N=720 /V=76* W=32O N=26* A^= 182

Yes 10.53 6.88 4-17 11.18 5-33" 20.07 '7-39*** 37-42

No 89.47 93-12 95-83 88.82 94.67 79-93 82.61 62.58
Missing 26.32 18.75 2.08 8.76 1-33 8.84 13.04 11.66
* Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.
** X^ = 9-5 at p = 0.0025.
*** X^ = 3-56 at/j = 0.059.

Table 9. Do you agree with the principle that "One should not do anything that might be
harmful to all of us"? % of valid responses.

Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001 Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

Ar=24* A^=i90 Ar=49* N=72O N=76* N=32O N=26* N=i82

Yes 91-3 88 93.18 92.68 98.63 97-1 92 93-17

No 8.7 12 6.82 7-32 1.37 2-9 8 6.83
Missing 4.35 13-77 11-36 198 4.11 15-94 4 13.04
* Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.

Table 10. 'Do you trust the informal leaders? % of valid responses'.

Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001 Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

N=2A ^ Ar=i9o W=49* yv=72o yv=76* 7^=320 7V=26* yv=i82

Yes 50 5586 25-64** 45-6 46.48 45-33 18.18 12.95

No 50 44.14 74-36 54-4 53-52 54-67 81.82 87.05
Missing 71-43 31-03 25-64 15.2 7.04 10.73 18.18 30.94
Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.
* X^ = 5-92 at p = 0.015.

people and fellow inmates less than convicts for other crimes, there are no statisti-
cally significant differences between them (Tables 11 and 12). These findings con-
firm the commonsense wisdom that prison teaches mistrust; after all, this is the
major lesson of the Prisoner's Dilemma.
Not surprisingly, prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes do not necessarily
believe that life outside prison walls is easier than in rclusion. After learning rules
of a new game, they gain the full rights of citizenship in the prison community.
A. Oteinik / Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and CriminalJustice 21 {2013) 185-206 203

Table u. Do you helieve people in general can he trusted? % of valid responses.

Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001 Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

N= 24* N= 190 N=49* N=72O N=76* Ar=320 N=26* JV=i82

Yes 9.09 14-84 10.2 15-75 14-67 20.28 4-35** 25.82

No 90.91 85.16 89-8 84-25 85-33 79-72 95-65 74-18
Missing 9-09 4-4 0 4-05 1-33 9-97 13-04 0

* Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.

** j(2 _ g 25 at p = 0.022.

Table 12. Do you trust other inmates in this penitentiary? % of valid responses.
Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001 Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

Yes 27.27 25-53 16.33 14-79 11.84 15-43 7-69** 23-33

No 45-46 35-11 53-06 43-24 38-16 43-09 61.54 40.56
Don't know 27.27 39-36 30.61 41-97 50 41.48 30.77 36.11
Missing 9-09 1.06 0 1-41 0 2.89 0 1.11

' Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.

Results of the 2000-2001 Russian survey deserve a more detailed discussion in this
regard. On the one hand, they indicate the only instance of statistically significant
difference between the two groups in answers to the question as to whether life is
easier in reclusin than outside prison walls (Table 13). On the other hand, the same
survey shows that 88% of convicts for drug-related crimes believe that they can
Influence decisions taken in prison compared with 70.4% of convicts in the second
group who share this opinion (the difference is not statistically significant).
The reported similarities in the organization of everyday life of both groups
might raise doubts on the validity of the assumption that the group convicted of
drug-related crimes is mostly composed of delinquents who landed in prison
because of 'bad luck' as opposed to career criminals. Nevertheless, the composi-
tion of the 2000-2001 Russian sample, the most representative of the four, suggests
that newcomers represent indeed an absolute majority of this group of respon-
dents (Table 14).
The structure of the sample in Kazakhstan gives a completely different picture;
here recidivists for whom the current sentence is fourth, fifth or sixth form a
modal group among those convicted for drug-related crimes. This fact brings us
back to the discussion of particularities of enforcement of anti-drug laws in
204 ^- Olend/European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 21 {2013) 185-206

Table 13. Do you believe that life is easier in prison than outside prison v^falls?
% of valid responses.

Russia 2003 Russia 2000-2001 Kazakhstan 2001 Ukraine 2003

yv=i9o Af=49* yv=72o N=24 A^=i90 N^49* A^=720

Yes 27.27 27.67 1 7.02 ** 30-69 20 26.1 37-5 38.73

No 72.73 72.33 82.98 69-31 80 73.9 62.5 61.27
Missing 9.09 19-5 4.25 7-78 1.33 8.48 8.33 5.2
* Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.

Table 14. Is the current sentence your first prison term? % of valid responses.

Russia Russia Kazakhstan Ukraine

2003 2000-2001 2001 2003

yv=24' A^=i90 N=49 * N='J20 N=24* N= 190 N^49* N='J20

Yes 58.33 65-73 60** 35-15 10.53*** 32.75 30.77 22.93

No, 2'"' 20.83 22.47 17-5 29.48 25 25-44 34.62 36.93
No, 3'^<* 12.5 8.43 17-5 17-69 30.26 22.3 26.92 23.57
No, 4**' 5'*^ etc. 8.33 3.37 5 17-69 34-21 19-51 7-69 16.56
Missing 0 6.74 22.5 63.26 0 11-5 0 1592
Group of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.
**X^ = n.4&atp =0.009.
: 0.0005.

Kazakhstan. Here chances of being sent to jail for a drug-related offence are higher
than in the two other post-Soviet countries. More rigorous policies of law enforce-
ment and attempts to segregate convicts for drug-related crimes from other crimi-
nals in specialized camps do not prevent the former, in the period of time under
consideration, from interiorizing norms of the prison subculture during their mul-
tiple yet short-term stays in prison (62% of sentences in this group of respondents
do not exceed 2 years compared with only 6.6% of such sentences in the second
group of respondents in Kazakhstan), in short, the two groups of respondents
have different legal status and profiles in Kazakhstan too, yet their social profiles
nevertheless converge.

5. Conclusion: Should States De-Criminalize Drug Use?

This article offers a tentative demonstration of the thesis that prison re-socializes
individuals convicted of drug-related crimes. As a result of serving their prison
terms, the behavior of convicts becomes uniform regardless of the nature of the
A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminai Law and CriminalJustice 21 (2013) 185-206 205

crimes that they committed. Individuals convicted of drug-related crimes and

thieves or murderers refer to veponyatiya and interiorize the values ofthe prison
subculture. Instead of being rehabilitated, drug users get closer to the traditional
criminal milieu. The arbitrariness in the enforcement of anti-drug laws further
aggravates the situation.
Thefindingsof this study can be generalized to individuals convicted of other
types of victimless crimes and, even more generally, to any newcomers in the
prison milieu. As time in reclusin passes, they acquire characteristics specific to
the behavior of career criminals. A common solution to this problem separate
detention of different classes of detainees does not suffice, arguably (as the
case of Kazakhstan suggests). On the one hand, inmates interact on many occa-
sions (for instance, separation can hardly be achieved in pretrial detention or dur-
ing transfers between prisons). On the other hand, all inmates, regardless of the
nature of their crimes, are subject to the same institutional constraints, alienated
official authority being one of them.
The article focuses on the example of the three post-Soviet countries, Russia,
Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The post-Soviet countries have a very similar legal
framework in regard to illegal drug use. However, the proposed overview of their
policies aimed at enforcing anti-drug laws shows divergent paths. The chances of
being sent to prison because of drug-related offences are higher in Kazakhstan (as
ofthe first half of the 2000s) than in Ukraine and especially in Russia. Accordingly,
Kazakhstan has the highest share of prisoners convicted of drug-related offences
in the total prison population.
These differences seem especially noteworthy taking into consideration simi-
larities in the cultural background ofthe three countries and their common 'point
of departure' (the Soviet system of justice and law enforcement). The divergent
paths in law enforcement indicate that the amount and type of punishment
depends less on the nature ofthe delinquent act itself, as 'natural law' or the 'eco-
nomics of crime and punishment'** would suggest, than on the particular socio-
economic context and priorities set by state representatives in a more or less
arbitrary manner. The arbitrariness in the application of anti-drug laws and the
re-socializing effects of prison prevent the rehabilitation of drug users and com-
plicate their return to normal life instead of facilitating it. Findings about the
impact of partisan politics on variability in state-level law enforcement practices
in the USA^^ indicate that the discrepancy between the nature ofthe offence and
the amount of punishment is not a country-specific phenomenon.

^'" The economics of crime and punishment assumes that 'some individuals become criminals
because ofthe financial and other rewards from crime compared to legal work, taking into account
of the likelihood of apprehension and conviction, and the severity of punishment' (G.S. Becker,
'Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior', loi Journal of Political Economy (1993),
385-409, at p. 390).
2o6 A. Oleinik / Europeanjoumal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminaljustice 21 {2013) 185-206

While thefirststages of the demonstration had a descriptive character, the next

stage involved the tentative analysis of the organization of social life of two groups
of inmates, those sentenced for drug-related crimes and those sentenced for other
crimes. The research hypothesis consists in assuming the lack of significant differ-
ences in the social organization of the two groups. The collected data do not refiite
it, which means that drug users interiorize norms of the prison subculture and
undergo re-socialization during their stay in prison. Prison teaches mistrust, espe-
cially of official authorities. It also teaches how to refer to illicit norms (the ponyat-
cya) instead of the law in organizing everyday interactions and solving conflicts.
A research design with elements ofa cohort study seems desirable to assess the
degree of durability of new orientations and 'habitus' acquired by drug users in
rclusion. Such a study would help assess the impact of the experience of incar-
ceration on their life after release from prison (or, speaking more realistically,
between consecutive imprisonments). Do they continue to refer to norms and
values of the prison subculture in their life outside prison walls? Does their 'drift
into delinquency', to use David Matza's expression,^^ only strengthen as a result of
theirstay in prison?
There exists an alternative explanation for the reportedfindings.The similarity
in the social organization of the two groups can be attributed to the spread of
criminal values and norms in the post-Soviet society as a whole. If this is true, then
one can familiarize him or herself with the prison subculture even prior to going
to prison. A deep mistrust in the government and official authorities, the substitu-
tion of informal norms for laws and the other elements of the prison subculture
then characterize the behavior of first-time ofFenders and also the general
population. A large-scale survey research conducted on nationally representative
samples would be needed to test this hypothesis.^^
The preceding analysis had a normative dimension: it indicates that criminaliza-
tion of illegal drug use has numerous side-efFects that are ignored or not taken seri-
ously into consideration by policymakers. Instead of contributing to the creation of
a better society, criminaliza tion of illegal drug use widens the gap between the state
and some groups of the population. Hence, a priority given to minimizing harm
rather than to maximizing benefits seems to be a better approach towards answer-
ing the question as to what degree the state should criminalize illegal drug use.
Approaches not involving incarceration^ seem promising from this point of view.

^^* T. Stucky, K. Heimer and J. Lang, 'A Bigger Piece of the Pie? State Corrections Spending and the
Politics of Social Order", 44 Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency (2007), gi-123.
^^' D. Matza,Oe/m^uenya/i/Dr/^{New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990).
3'* For a first attempt to explore it, see A. Oleinik, loc. cit
^* Including strategies of legalization of currently extralegal and criminal practices, see, for instance,
H. de Soto, The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2002).
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