Corrective labor colony

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A corrective labor colony (Russian: Исправительно-трудовая колония, ИТК, ispravitelno-trudovaya koloniya, ITK) is the most common type of prison in Russia and some post-Soviet states which combines penal detention with forced labor.[1][2] The system of colonies originated in 1929[3][4] and developed as a post-Stalin replacement of the Gulag labor camp system.

Soviet Union

In the late Soviet Union the labor colonies were governed by Article 11 of the Corrective Labor Law and were intended for adult (16 years and over) convicts. The colonies were classified according to the regimen of severity: colonies of ordinary, reinforced, strict, and special regimens (колонии общего, усиленного, строгого, особого режимов), as well as the "colony-settlements" (колонии-поселения). Only ordinary and strict regimens (and colony-settlements) were provided for female convicts.[1][2]

"Colony-settlements" were establishments introduced in 1960s for convicts with good behavior who served at least half of the term for those eligible for the parole and who served two thirds of the term and not eligible for parole. The inmates are without guard, but under observation and may move relatively freely. They may also have family.[5]

Russian Federation

Of the four types of facilities of prisons in Russia, the corrective colony (ispravitelnie kolonii or IK) is the most common, with 760 institutions in 2004 across the many administrative divisions of Russia.[6]

Corrective colony regimes are categorized as very strict / special, strict, general, and open.[6] The detachment (отря́д or otryad) is the basic unit of the prison.[7] When not in the detachment, prisoners are required to participate in penal labour, which is in the form of work brigades in colony production zones where prisoners earn a wage, of which most is paid to the colony for their upkeep.[7]

The detachment is largely self-organized, with the prison administration designating the "head monitor" with the job of keeping order and to liaise with the prison administration, and is supported by various prisoners' committees responsible for health and safety, cleanliness, energy saving, and also psychological counselling.[7] Female detachments organize cultural and social activities such as beauty pageants, variously called by such names as "Miss Colony", "Miss Spring", and "Miss Personality".[7]


Isolation is common, and family breakdowns and loss of contact with children is frequent among prisoners.[7][neutrality is disputed] Most females have a relatively comfortable existence compared with males. Many male prisoners don't see their families for decades, although women are technically allowed monthly family visits.[8] Russian law allows women with underage children to be exempted from punishment in certain cases (Article 82 of The Criminal Code Of The Russian Federation).[9] Nearly 3/4 of prisoners receive no family visits at all.[7] The FSIN has suggested that prisoners talk with their loved ones using Skype.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Encyclopedia of Soviet Law (1985) ISBN 90-247-3075-9, section "Penitentiary Institutions"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Great Soviet Encyclopedia, article "Corrective labor colony" (Russian)
  3. Utechin, S. V. (1961). "Corrective Labour Colonies". A Concise Encyclopaedia of Russia. Part 146 of Dutton paperback. E.P. Dutton & Company. p. 136. Retrieved 2015-07-20. Corrective Labour Colonies, one of the main types of detention place since 1929.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 11 июля 1929 г.: постановление Совета народных комиссаров СССР «Об использовании труда уголовно-заключенных» [Act of the Soviet of Peoples' Commissars of the USSR "Concerning the use of the labor of criminal prisoners", 11 July 1929]
  5. Great Soviet Encyclopedia, article "Colony-settlement" (Russian)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Roth 2006, p. 231.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Pallot, Judith (23 October 2012). "How will the Pussy Riot band members fare in Russia's 'harshest prisons'?". The Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Russia's Toughest Prison: The Condemned" BBC Four documentary
  9. The Criminal Code Of The Russian Federation