Remarks at Opening of Armavir Penitentiary

Minister Hovhannisyan, Ambassador Switalski, penitentiary staff and other guests. Thank you for inviting me to join you here today.

I want to congratulate the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections for completing another construction phase here at Armavir Penitentiary, and for taking another important step forward in penitentiary reform in Armenia.

Armavir Penitentiary is an example of what can be accomplished when we work together in partnership. The U.S. Embassy has a long history of cooperation with our Armenian partners. We provided more than $500,000 in training for reformers and instructors to help instill a new culture of change at the penitentiary. Armavir was the first institution in Armenia to apply the modern prison management concepts provided by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and now serves as a model of what a prison can and should be. And although Armavir officially opened last year, we would not be gathered here today to celebrate the completion of the final construction phase of the penitentiary without the generous support of the EU, which provided the necessary assistance to build the last two buildings for inmates. Thanks to the efforts of the EU and government of Armenia, Armavir will now have the capacity to house 1200 inmates, approximately 25% of Armenia’s prison population.

Together, as true partners, we are creating a modern corrections system, which is part and parcel of a strong and effective justice system. The U.S. Government, working with our Armenian partners and international colleagues, is committed to seeing Armavir fulfill its potential to establish itself as a model for prison management and rehabilitation programs. Thank you.