The Science Work
Site is for sale:
Category: History

Impact of socio-political processes on development of penal system of Russia of the end of the XIX beginning of the 20th century

d. A. Ivanova


Work is presented by department of history of state and law of the St. Petersburg university Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The research supervisor - Candidate of Law Sciences, associate professor V.V. Frolov

In article the impact of the socio-political processes which are taking place XIX in Russia of the end - the beginning of the 20th century, on functioning and development of penal system is considered. It is emphasized that the penal system was used by the government as the instrument of temporary use of the power and fight against dissent. Examples of aggravation of political struggle and, as a result, increase in number of political prisoners and toughening of conditions of their contents are given. As an example of special political prisons the Peter and Paul and Shlisselburg fortresses are considered. Conclusions are drawn on the impact of socio-political processes on development of penal system.

D. Ivanova


The article is devoted to the influence of socio-political processes that took place in Russia at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century on the functioning and development of the penitentiary system. The author underlines that the penitentiary system was used as a tool for maintaining the government authority and control of dissent. The article contains the examples of the political struggle and, as a consequence, of the increasing number ofpolitical prisoners and toughening of incarceration conditions. Shlisselburg and Peter and Paul Fortresses are considered as examples of special political prisons. The author comes to the conclusions about the influence of socio-political processes on the development of the penitentiary system.

Impact of socio-political processes on development of penal system of Russia.

The penal system is one of the most important elements of the state, problems of maintenance of legality, fight against crime and of prevention of commission of crimes are solved with its help. Development and effective functioning of penal system in depends on the general internal political course and a legal regime of the state many. An important factor for development of penal system is the socio-political situation in the country. In the history of development of penal system there are many examples of confirmation of this circumstance.

In this regard, one of the most indicative stages of development of penal system of Russia is the period of the end of XIX - the beginning of the 20th century. The processes of global reforming of state system of Russia happening during this period affected practically all spheres of life of society and, naturally, were reflected also in penal system.

The prison and Judicial reforms begun in the second half of the 19th century and directed to improvement of functioning of the penal and judicial system took place with considerable difficulties. Both the imperfection of a regulatory framework, and insufficient material security, and organizational and bureaucratic delays was the reasons of these difficulties.

Besides aggravation of the internal political opposition caused by influence of the European democratic ideas and increase of the crisis phenomena of political and economic character in society was one of the main reasons for difficulty in reforming of a prison system.

Emergence of a set of various political trends and parties, aggravation of the political struggle developing into open opposition and extremism forced the government to use all possible levers of state mechanism for maintenance of the existing mode. The system of execution of punishments was the first such lever.

Since the middle of the 19th century the number of the persons serving sentences for political convictions and antigovernmental activity began to increase considerably. This category of prisoners and was called "political". Most often in relation to political prisoners the punishment in the form of Siberian exile and to the Far East was applied that allowed to isolate them from the center of political events. Besides, political prisoners served sentences in usual and specialized prisons.

However aggravation of an internal political situation in the country when protest actions began to accept mass character, led to an acute shortage of prison rooms for keeping of political offenders and impossibility of the mass reference.

Growth of revolutionary movement in the 18601870th caused in the tsarist government the need for creation of the large prisons which were under the central supervision of the head prison department - New Borisoglebsk, New Belgorod, Aleksandrovsky, near Irkutsk, and other central [3, page 64].

In tsarist Russia there were also special political prisons. A striking example of such institutions are the Peter and Paul and Shlisselburg fortresses.

Having arisen as military constructions, fortresses lost the value over time and began to be used by the tsarist government as political prisons. The tsarevitch Alexey Petrovich and his adherents [2, page 43] were the first prisoners of the Peter and Paul Fortress since February, 1718.

For all history of the Shlisselburg fortress through it there passed thousands of political prisoners. In most cases got to fortress not under sentence of judicial authorities, and on command of the tsar, without any motivation.

Carrying out judicial trials of narodovolets and representatives of other political trends as a result of which

became a reason for active use of fortresses as political prison

there was a large number of convicts to eternal and long penal servitude whom the government was forced to keep at itself near by, in the Shlisselburg political prison.

As a result of revolution of 1905 the political prisoners who were contained in the Shlisselburg fortress were released. For a while fortress turned into the place for excursions. But long the prison could not be empty. Defeat of revolution of 1905-1907 led to the fact that new Shlisselburg unbearable opened on January 1, 1907 centrat. The island was almost completely built up with prison buildings, and in a main line it was possible to place more than 800 prisoners [4, page 127].

In Shlisselburg main lines were such famous revolutionaries as V.O. Likhtenshtadt, G.K. Ordzhonikidze, F.N. Petrov, I.P. Voronitsyn, B.P. Zha-danovsky, etc. Revolutionaries carried on traditions of narodovolets and in incredibly severe conditions of prison life and active counteraction of a central to administration could stand against an arbitrariness and non-compliance with the elementary human rights and freedoms [5, page 113].

For all history of the Shlisselburg fortress through it there passed thousands of political prisoners. In the territory of fortress, death sentences were repeatedly carried out. Many prisoners committed suicide or died of diseases owing to severe conditions of contents.

In general, social and political situation in Russia is very contradictory affected development of a system of punishments. On the one hand, Russia declared commitment to many European values (attempts to introduce solitary confinement in prison). On the other hand, strengthening of criminal repressions (especially concerning infringement of the state), toughening of conditions of keeping for political offenders (isolation from society) and also unsatisfactory conditions in many penal institutions were contrary to the specified declarations.

Various information documents of the end of 1905 - the beginnings of 1906 dazzle with data on revolutionary events in various cities of Russia. Protests are observed even in police.

Therefore in 1902-1903 in the large cities special bodies of political investigation - search offices were formed (later they were renamed into security offices). A little later for coordination of their activity regional security offices were created, each of which directed activity of security offices in several provinces. In addition to it the government made the decision on increase in a salary of some categories of police ranks.

By 1905. The provision on measures to protection of the state order and public tranquility of 1881 and the Provision on martial law of 1892 operated on the territory where 117 million people lived [3, page 200].

These measures led to increase in number of political prisoners that was characteristic feature of penitentiary policy of the state at the beginning of the 20th century Besides, the trend of increase in number of prisoners from "noble", i.e. highest estates was shown.

Attempts of the government to solve a problem of overpopulation of prisons and practical reorganization of institute of punishments were in general unsuccessful. The main mistake of reformers was in what they did not consider in a due measure of actual position with places of detention in Russia.

Formation huge, difficult and at the same time insufficiently centralized and systemically organized system of the bodies and institutions which are executing punishment, not having sufficient financing and legal regulation became a result of the considered period of development of institute of punishments.

Development was at a loss not only problems of material character, such as: insufficient financing, the shortage of places of detention and personnel problems, but also shortcomings in standard

legal regulation. The essence of these shortcomings came down to the fact that at adoption of regulations the legislator did not consider the real situation of penal system and a ratio of again accepted standards with already existing. Gradually correctional institutions in Russia became more and more. By the beginning of 1917 their number reached 57, more than 2500 people contained here [1, page 96].

Proceeding from the above, it is possible to draw a conclusion that functioning peniten-

a tsiarny system during the analyzed period was in close interrelation with the general course of the pursued domestic policy. On the one hand, use of a system of punishments as instrument of political struggle led to significant increase in its components. On the other hand, the problem phenomena peculiar to the Russian society of the beginning of the 20th century affected development of a system of punishments by a pernicious image. First of all problems of material security and legal regulation.


1. GrekovM. L. Prison systems: state, prospects: yew.... edging. yur. sciences. Krasnodar,
2. E.E. Kolosov. Monarchic prison Shlisselburg (according to official figures). 4 prod. M, 2003.
3. ReentYu. L. General and political police of Russia (1900-1917). Ryazan, 2001.
4. K.V. Uporov. Penitentiary policy of Russia in the 18-20th centuries: Historical and legal analysis of trends of development. SPb., 2004.
5. E.G. Yudin, I.I. Oleynik. History of penal correction system of Russia. Ivanovo, 2003.


1. Grekov M. L. Tyuremnye sistemy: sostoyanie, perspektivy: dis.... kand. yur. nauk. Krasnodar,
2. Kolosov E. E. Gosudareva tyur&ma Shlissel&burg (po ofitsial&nym dannym). 4-e izd. M., 2003.
3. Reyent Yu. L. Obshchaya i politicheskaya politsiya Rossii (1900-1917 gg.). Ryazan&, 2001.
4. Uporov K. V. Penitentsiarnaya politika Rossii v XVIII-XX vv.: Istoriko-pravovoy analiz tendent-siy razvitiya. SPb., 2004.
5. Yudin E. G., Oleynik1.1. Istoriya ugolovno-ispolnitel&noy sistemy Rossii. Ivanovo, 2003.
Peter Miller
Other scientific works: