The Unequal Battle between Politics, Science and Humanity, Czechoslovakia 1965–1992
Author(s): Klára Pinerová, Kristýna Haluzíková Bušková, Michal Louč Language: English Year of publication: 2023 Page Range: 556 ISBN: 978-3-949607-16-5 E-ISBN-13: 978-3-949607-17-2
Subject(s): modern history, Sociology
Socialist prisons have always been associated with repression, violence and bullying of political prisoners. However, our book shows something very surprising. The Czechoslovak prison system had been undergoing radical changes since the 1950s. New tendencies were promoted in various periods that aligned with the social and political situation. The prison system as a whole was not an institution that would evolve separately, regardless of changes in the society. The way it was managed was clearly shaped by people who were making decisions about where Czechoslovakia was headed, as penal and penitentiary policy was created at the highest levels. These changes are described by means of master narratives in this book, by observing them on multiple levels. Changes in the prison system could be observed in not only the system itself, as organisational changes in the management of the institution as such, but also in the transformation of the thinking of those in top positions of the prison administration and in the lowest positions alike. We show that the narrative they adopted and that affected the interpretation of their experience and decisions had an effect on their treatment of different categories of prisoners. The book shows that the prison system reflects the character of the whole society and says a lot about it.