“I could not reconcile with my dad. It was bad for me. He was beating me”. Ion shakes his hands, plays with his fingers, bends them. His answers are short, he often does not find the words, though he is looking nervous. However, he responds well. Bored, but in a good way. In the last seven years, he stole everything he wanted, and the only punishment was the beating received from his stepfather. Last spring, Ion learned he was going to spend a decade in jail for murder.
Two fathers, two beatings
Ion was born in Călărași district, where he lived with his mother and biological father until six. The latter is alcoholic and has previously been convicted of theft. Often, when he was drinking, the man poured his anger on his wife and child. Today, all Ion can say about him is that they had “very bad” relations. His only beautiful memories in Călăraşi are related to the “Uncle Costea”, the mother’s brother. With him, he used to go to the forest for firewood or for grass for animals, then to barbecue.
When Ion’s parents divorced, the boy and his mother moved to a settlement in Ungheni district. At the age of nine, without realizing, Ion started to follow the footsteps of his biological father. The mother’s second husband has proven to be both alcoholic and aggressive. Ion, however, was no longer so tolerant. He began to flee home, and to have something to fill his stomach, he would put into practice what he learned from his cousin: to steal. On his first time, he stole a toy car to play with. Then, hungry, he began to steal nuts.
Today, Ion says his stepfather would beat him only when he was “bad” and “not to do any more bad things”. Questions about his frequent absence from home make him rub his hands harder. With the appearance of the new father in his life, Ion found his refuge in a gang that shared his “passions”. Together they drank wine, smoked, stole, and then sell what they have “collected”. And to have time for all this they helped each other in housework. The scheme was simple – “someone would see something at a man’s home and tell me. Then we went to steal. During both night and day. My parents were telling me not to do stupid things, but I did not listen. At that time, I did not even know what that punishment was”, says Ion.
Three thefts and one killing
On a late winter day, Ion and his friends were guesting at an acquaintance’s, a member of their “guild”, but only mature, who sometimes suggested to them where and what they could steal. After some wine cups, Ion with his gang broke into a warehouse on the shores of a nearby lake and stole nets, fishing ropes, ropes, gasoline and bullets from there. Victorious, the young men went home to Ion, hid the stolen things, drank a few glasses of wine, and headed for an old lady’s house, where they planned to steal walnuts. “We stole 20kg of nuts from her, but before we got out of there, she saw us. From the house, she shouted to a neighbor of hers to help her. I do not know what was happening in my head, but I broke the glass at the door with my fist and hit her”, remembers the boy.
They hurried back to Ion’s home, where his companions stayed overnight to sleep. Ion, however, could not rest. He was too drunk to walk, with the adrenaline and the alcohol telling him that the day was just starting. Then he decided to steal more walnuts from another old lady. “I went to the sarai (warehouse) and I wanted to open the lock. It was raining outside and I heard someone coming. I was scared, I hid and got an iron bar in my hand”, says Ion. It was the rushing steps of the house owner, who was checking what was going on. Ion, scared, hit her with the metal bar in the head, and the woman fell to the ground. “I hit her twice more, after that. Then I went to her house and searched for money – I got 17 thousand lei”, Ion says coughing, nodding and continues.
After taking the walnuts and money, on his way home, he met a boy and told him what he had done. He suggested that he should get rid of the corpse for not being caught. “He advised me to burn it. This idea came into my head. Even if he was very drunk. I went home, got my father’s carriage and some gasoline. I woke one of the boys who was sleeping at my place and I threatened him that if he did not help me, I would kill him too”, says Ion chuckling.
They climbed to the top of a hill by the village with the carriage, put the woman’s body on the ground, poured gas on it, and tried to burn it. The rain, however, did not allow the flame to ignite. “After that, we went to the acquaintance where we had drunk all day, and we drank again until we got drunk, then went home and slept”.
The next day, the village found out what happened, and Ion was arrested. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder with aggravating circumstances. Four out of these 10 years will be spent at the 10th Prison for minors.
Beaten yesterday, detained today
Today, Penitentiary number 10 from Goian has 28 juveniles, all of them male, aged between 16 and 20. “Many of our detainees were either beaten in childhood, or even they are aggressive. The majority are here for serious and extremely serious crimes. Obviously, some of these crimes are also violent. It’s about murder, various sexual acts, robbery, hooliganism”, explains Liubovi Jignea, the head of the penitentiary. Juvenile offenders are involved in a range of programs by psychologists and educators who aim to reduce violence. Among these, there is the case management program. Thus, each child has a contact officer with whom he communicates more, and who has the role of a tutor in the penitentiary.
The theory that a child who grew up in a violent family can become a juvenile delinquent is mentioned by every organization that is fighting against domestic violence. However, statistics confirming the position of organizations or psychologists are few, most of them being done on the American continent. According to Elena Covaliova, such studies require large investments, both financial and time ones, because the participants in the study must be traced from the beginning of their childhood to the age of maturity. However, the psychologist states that judging by the cases she personally knows, the theory is confirmed. “I have been consulting people over thirty years old, who should have been already developed, successful, but they can not overcome the wrong relationship with their parents”, says Elena Covaliova.
So the first models of behavior the child notices are the parents. Ion followed faithfully the example of the biological father. “Even if, with years, the child learns what is good or bad, and even if Ion’s family’s situation has changed, the fear of the punishment and the idea that violence is a normality have not allowed him to grow independently”, Covaliova believes.
Translated by Cristi Vlas