Introduction: being a structural and functional element of the state mechanism (a kind of “state within the state”), the prison system is transforming along with it. Accordingly, the image status of the prison itself and representatives of prison authorities and prison population is also changing. Aim: to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the image status of individual social systems on the example of the penal system so as to identify the features of its formation and ways of optimization. We bring to the fore the problem of understanding the term “system” in the context of the image status of the social system in general and the penal system in particular. We highlight the formation of semantic images and image statuses on the example of three social institutions (school, army, prison), which are similar in terms of parametric characteristics and functioning and qualitatively different in image status. The article comprehensively examines the bipolar image of the penal system: on the one hand, prison is inextricably linked with human misfortune, an evil that cannot be treated positively; on the other hand, as an instrument of state law enforcement policy, the prison guarantees the inevitability of punishment for a crime, ensuring the execution of punishment, protecting law-abiding citizens, which is a good thing for society and the state. Methods: comprehensive and systematic analysis, which made it possible to compare the penal system with other public institutions at various stages of the political genesis of Russia. Results: the features of formation and functioning of the image status of the Russian penal system are considered in the context of the concept of cyclic political genesis. In accordance with this concept, in relation to the history of the unified Russian state, three cycles should be distinguished (imperial, Soviet, post-Soviet). Within the framework of each of them, Russia had qualitatively different forms of state government, economic order, social structure, etc. At the same time, in such different Russian states, there were different models of prison systems, the formation and functioning of which, as well as the transformation of the image status, was carried out under the influence of state prison policy and under the influence of public consciousness (national mentality). Conclusions: the current state of the Russian penal system can be described as transitional. Along with the legacy of the Soviet past, we observe serious changes proceeding from democratization and humanization of the political and legal system of the Russian Federation. Transformation of the image of the penal system is aimed at increasing the level of its openness and forming a positive opinion about its activities. It is important that in the public consciousness the image of the penal system as a predominantly punitive prison system gradually be replaced by the idea of it as a penitentiary system, which is concerned primarily with “revival of the essence of humanity” in a person through awareness and repentance. As for the image status of employees of the penal system, the state can optimize it first of all by equalizing their official status with that of military personnel and special services employees, who, like representatives of the prison system, serve the Russian state, but are in a privileged position in relation to them. Increasing the prestige of the service in the penal system in the eyes of actual or potential employees implies the rejection of such differentiation.
Keywords: image; image status; image transformation; penal system; prison; prison administration; convicts; penal servitude; regularity; criminal prosecution; execution of punishment; Concept for development of the penal system, theory of law
Candidate of Sciences (Philosophy), Head of the Center for Public Relations of FSIN Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation, leading researcher at the Research Institute of FSIN Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation, e-mail: ErmolaevIA@admhmao.ru
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Doctor of Sciences (Law), Head of the Legal Department of FSIN Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation, Chief Researcher at the Research Institute of FSIN Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation, professor of the Department of Theory and History of State and Law at Krasnoyarsk State Agrarian University, Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation
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Doctor of Sciences (Law), Head of the Department of General Theoretical Legal Disciplines, Vice-Rector for Education of Moscow State Linguistic University, Moscow, Russian Federation
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Doctor of Sciences (Law), Professor, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation, professor of the Department of State and Legal Disciplines at Faculty of Law of Vologda Institute of Law and Economics FSIN Russia, Vologda, Russian Federation, professor of the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology at Korolev Samara National Research University, Samara, Russian Federation
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