Romanian prisoners write their way to an early release

In one of the lesser known loopholes of the country's law, judges can allow up to 30 days to be knocked off a sentence per paper or book published

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The Independent Online

Offering all the isolation an author could crave, Romanian prison cells have proved a rich seam for the literary lag.

Once sentenced, dozens of detainees – mostly corrupt businessmen and politicians – have discovered their inner author and written a series of papers on subjects ranging from science to Romanian royalty to football. In return, they have been released ahead of schedule. 

In one of the lesser known loopholes of the law, judges can allow up to 30 days to be knocked off a sentence per paper or book published. Now a group of Romanian senators have launched campaign to amend the loophole, arguing that criminals are paying “ghost writers” to produce the books and receiving greatly reduced sentences.

A former prime minister, a TV mogul and a football club owner are among those who have had their sentences reduced, the Associated Press reported. Senator Valeriu Tudoriscu told the Mediafax news agency the law helped senior figures convicted of corruption “return quicker to their wealth obtained through theft”.

According to the Romanian National Penitentiaries Administration, there were  more than 400 books published by 188 detainees between 2013 and 2015. Dan Voiculescu, one of Romania’s richest men and owner of several television stations, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in August 2014 for corruption. Since then, he has reportedly written eight scientific papers from prison.

In April 2015, Romanian businessman Gheorghe Copos, who was serving four years in prison, was accused of plagiarism in relation to a book he reportedly wrote, titled Matrimonial Alliances as a Policy of Romanian Kings in the XIV-XVIth Centuries. He has since been released.

Gigi Becali , the controversial owner of Steaua Bucharest football club, reduced his stay in prison by writing two books, one of which was about his relationship with the football team he owns, while former politician Nicolae Vasilescu has allegedly written nine books since 2014 and jailed businessman Dinel Staicu has had seven titles published in a similar period.