Inmates rioted at four prisons Friday after lawmakers rejected a proposed amnesty for repeat offenders, and at least three prisoners were beaten and stabbed to death, authorities said.
At one prison, 1,000 inmates tried to escape, the state-run PAP news agency said. Violence began Thursday night or early Friday at four maximum-security prisons, said Jerzy Rybarczyk, spokesman for the Central Board of Penitentiaries in Warsaw.At Czarne Prison "prisoners started destroying equipment, set warehouse facilities on fire and attacked prison guards who tried to get the situation under control," PAP said.
The rebellious inmates dumped three battered and stabbed prisoners at the main gate of the prison, PAP said. Two were dead and the third died en route to the hospital.
The prison houses 1,500 hard-core inmates near Slupsk on the Baltic coast. "It is suspected that the situation was used to settle accounts among the prisoners," PAP said.
The situation inside the prison remained out of control Friday, with about 1,000 prisoners attempting at one point to force open the main gate, PAP said.
Guards and police surrounded the exterior of the prison to prevent any escapes, PAP said, quoting a corrections official, Col. Tadeusz Judycki.
About 700 prisoners revolted at the Goleniow Prison near Szczecin in northwest Poland, where inmates seized two cellblocks and set a fire, and more unrest was reported at Kaminsk Prison, near Olsztyn in north-central Poland, Rybarczyk said.
Inmates also staged a protest at Nowogard, also near Szczecin, but Rybarczyk said he had no further details.
The riots began after the lower house of Parliament, the Sejm, rejected a Senate proposal to extend an amnesty to habitual criminals.
Czarne, Goleniow and Kaminsk house hard-core prisoners who had hoped that an amnesty approved by the lower house Nov. 16 would be extended to include them. The Senate urged widening the amnesty so that it would no longer exclude repeat offenders, major thieves and those convicted of vehicular manslaughter under influence of alcohol.
The Senate proposal aroused widespread debate among Poles who feared it would lead to a wholesale release of criminals at a time when crime rates are rising. The Sejm, after a lengthy debate, rejected the Senate proposal.
The original amnesty passed by the Sejm will take effect. In general, it suspends sentences of under two years for unpremeditated crimes and under three years for premeditated crimes.
Death sentences were reduced to 25 years in prison, 25-year terms were reduced to 15 years, and other sentences were reduced by one-third to one-half.
The amnesty applied to crimes committed before Sept. 12, the day the government controlled by members of the Solidarity labor movement took control.
The idea behind the amnesty was to extend to prisoners a second chance under Poland's new political climate, advocates said.