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The Juridical Regime of the Penitentiary System in Romania in the 2nd Half of the 19th Century, early twentieth Century

Author: Merei Luminiţa Eleni
Degree:doctor of law
Speciality: 12.00.01 - General Theory of Law, History of State and Law, History of Political and Law Doctrines
Scientific adviser: Andrei Smochină
doctor habilitat, professor, Institute of History of the ASM


The thesis was presented on the 4 December, 2015
Approved by NCAA on the 25 February, 2016


Adobe PDF document0.51 Mb / in romanian


CZU 343.82 (498) (043.3)M 59

Adobe PDF document 1.16 Mb / in romanian
168 pages


delinquency, cell system, reinsertion, expiation, commutation, relapse, instance, reclusion, correction, prevention, detention, incarceration, criminality


Structure of the thesis: introduction, four chapters, conclusions, bibliography with 162 titles. The results of the doctoral thesis were presented in 9 articles published in collections and specialty magazines in Romania, the USA, and the Republic of Moldova

The field of study of the doctoral thesis refers to the legal regime, from a historical perspective, of the detention system in Romania during the most prolific period of construction and modernization of the Romanian state, a period in which an extraordinary leap was taken in absolutely all fields of the political, social and economic activity. A historical period in which the need for modernization of the Romanian state happily coincided with a period of deep changes of mentalities and legal realities in Europe and worldwide in the field of criminal liability, of the execution of punishments with deprivation of freedom, and conditions of life in prison.

Purpose and objectives of the thesis. The purpose of the doctoral thesis is that, based on the studies of sources, legal acts and works published on the chosen theme, to argue the objective consequently pursued by the servants of the law for more than a century: humanization of the penitentiary system, of the detention conditions in prisons, with a view to reinsert in society the persons condemned to punishments with deprivation of freedom. Considering our purpose, we propose the achievement of the following objectives: to highlight the need to reform the penitentiary system, to know the opinions of the European and Romanian penalists on the role of prisons and on the deficiencies of the penitentiary system in the modern period; to present the organization of the penitentiary system in the Romanian Principalities and in the modern Romania for the period 1831-1929; to underline the modernizing role of the laws and regulations in this matter in the last decades in the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century, with an obvious tendency to humanize the penitentiary system; to examine the dispositions concerning the improvement of the convicts’ life; to describe the work organization in prisons, the moral, school, and religious education, with a view to prepare the reinsertion in society of the population of penitentiaries and correctional institutes; conclusions that reflect the experience and the knowledge acquired from that epoch of renewal of the criminal legislation and into the contemporary reality, in order to contribute to the improvement thereof.

The novelty and the originality of the thesis. The author of this thesis proposed herself to highlight the positive pars of the laws and regulations in the period studied, focusing on the humanization of the penitentiary system. From this point of view, the idea of moral reform of the Romanian penitentiary system has, until the present day, made but a few times the explicit object of some in-depth monographic studies.

The doctoral thesis went through almost exhaustively the reference studies published until the present, starting from the last decades of the 19th century, and the codes and the usual laws of this period. Some of the sources used (archive materials concerning the work in prisons or the life conditions) are brought into the scientific information for the first time, which brings the work n extra amount of originality. This work complements the previous studies, with a presentation of the penitentiary systems in the Romanian provinces that were under foreign occupation before 1918 and especially to highlight the continuous reform of the penitentiary system, with a statistical compared analysis of the penitentiary systems in the Republic of Moldova and Romania, in the contemporary age.

The important scientific issue solved by this work consists of demonstrating and giving a scientific base to the existence as an avant-garde, in the context of the epoch envisaged, of the legal thought in the Romanian space concerning the detention as penal sanction, which serves to confirm the fact that, starting from the second half of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century, the Romanian space did not modernize only at a minimal level, as there were deep original concerns in the legal thought and action, thus allowing for highlighting the Romanian legal thought as one that is connected and conform with the values of the democratic and civilized world, allowing us to evaluate the Romanian legal thought in an area that has been too little researched by the law specialists.

Theoretical significance. Based on the conclusions of the study of data collected in a significant time span, compared to today’s realities and objectives of the reform of the penitentiary system, the thesis argues on: the necessity of social measures to be taken to prevent criminality; the prevention of the relapse phenomenon; cultivation of some convictions and rules of ethical conduct, in order to remedy the behavioral deficit of the convicts.

Applicative value of the work. The observations of the generations of legal professionals concerning the sources of criminality, the ascending curve of the phenomenon, in relation to its causes, summed up and analyzed in this work, have certain perspectives of applicability in measures towards a penitentiary system reform.

Implementation of the scientific results. Most of the ideas, conclusions, and proposals included in the thesis are reflected in the materials published by the author, which could be useful from the perspective of the use in what remains perennial for the idea of detention: the improvement of the human condition of a prisoner serving his punishment, in order for him to be restituted to society in the observance on the legal norms.