Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
The “Organic Statutes” of 1831–1832 also regulated the modern organisation of prisons in the Romanian Principalities, stipulating that the local authorities had to provide safe and clean detention establishments. However, things were far from this desideratum. In 1845, there were in Galaţi two prisons: the city prison and the criminal prison. On 10 March 1845, when the British vice-consul Charles Cunningham visited the city prison, the establishment, placed in an insalubrious and highly humid area, consisted of a one–storied wooden building. The hut was divided into two equal parts, one for the guards, and the other for the prisoners; under it, there was a dungeon for dangerous criminals. “The room, where the prisoners are had two windows guarded with irons bars, and were without glass, or any substitute to keep out the weather. Sometimes these are covered in with a transparent gut, but then the prison must suffer from want of air”. The detention room (about 17 square meters) was completely inefficient for the large number of prisoners, eight when the visit took place, but sometimes as large as 20 or 30, when the convicts were confined to the dungeon. There were no beds, the healthy inmates and their sick colleagues being held together, without any medical or social assistance. Concerning the food, things were as difficult, as the authorities did not provide any assistance and everything depended on public charity.
According to the French Doctor Benjamin Nicolas Appert (who visited the place accompanied by Doctor Jacob Stanislaus Cihac, the surgeon of the local troops and hospitals, and by the dragoman of the French consulate), in 1851 there were confined in the criminal prison “18 prisoners not yet judged, expecting for several months the conclusion of their trials”. The captives slept on the floor, “on reasonable reed mattresses”. There were two large underground cells, which were rather useless. As for the city prison, Appert considered its room to be good and the program similar to that from the criminal prison. When the guests visited it, there were four prisoners in the city prison, among whom a woman.
During the following decades the city prison seems to have been in a very bad condition, as in 1863 it consisted of a single room, extremely crowded, in which there were held together men and women irrespective of their sentences. In 1869 the same situation prevailed, as the detention rooms had no stoves, beds or mats. In 1874 a new penitentiary law was introduced in Romania, according to the French model, which instituted the Auburnian system – the prisoners were held together by the day and isolated during the night.
In 1887 an arrest court for culprits, appellants and convicts with small penalties was founded at Galaţi, being initially hosted in a private house. Thus, there were now three prisons in the Danubian port city: the military arrest, the preventive prison of Covurlui County and the jail of the Appellative Court.
In 1893 the municipality granted to the state, respectively to the General Direction of Penitentiaries, a plot of land from the estate of the commune, on Traian Street, for building a correction prison, also necessary for the preventive prison, until then under the jurisdiction of the county authorities. The construction of the prison started in 1894 and was completed in 1897, when the prisoners from the two arrests were moved into the new building. The penitentiary of Galaţi was a modern establishment for those times, having 350 places of accommodation in ninety detention rooms, and provided with all necessary dependences (infirmary, workshops, baths, washrooms, etc).
On 31 December 1906 in the penitentiary of Galaţi there were 165 prisoners, among whom two women. 1,097 people (37 women) were imprisoned that year. On 31 December 1907 there were 180 prisoners held in the detention establishment.
 The inspection was requested by the British authorities after an Ionian, British subject, died in the prison of Galatz – The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, Foreign Office, 78 (Turkey), FO 78/608, fol. 37 (Jassy, Consul Samuel Gardner to the Earl of Aberdeen, 31 March 1845). Some information in this template, including the document referred to above, were published in Constantin Ardeleanu, “Some Information on the Prisons of Galaţi at the Middle of the 19th Century”, Danubius, 29 (2011), 163–168.
 Benjamin Nicolas Marie Appert, Voyage dans les principautés danubiennes (Mainz: J. G. Wirth, 1854) in Călători străini despre Ţările Române în secolul al XIX-lea, edited by Daniela Buşă (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2009), 671–672.
 Adrian Pohrib, Din istoria poliţiei române. Poliţia oraşului Galaţi între anii 1832 şi 1949. Istoric şi documente (Galaţi: Agaton, 2013), 32, 35, 360–362.
 Ibid., 403–404.
 Enciclopedia României, vol. I, Statul (Bucharest: Imprimeria Naţională, 1936), 362.
 Moise N. Pacu, Cartea judeţului Covurluiu. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice, vol. I (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891), 196–202.
 Gr. I. Dianu, Istoria închisorilor din România, Studiu comparativ (Bucharest: Tipografia Curţii Regale F. Göbl Fii, 1901), 122.
 Ibid., 123.
 C. Rădulescu, Raport general asupra închisorilor centrale şi aresturilor preventive pe anul 1907–1908 (Bucharest: Imprimeria Statului, 1908), 178–185.
The official site of Galaţi Penitentiary
Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Primăria oraşului Galaţi (The Municipality of Galaţi), files starting with 1831.
Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Prefectura Judeţului Covurlui (The Prefecture of Covurlui County), files starting with 1848.
The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, Foreign Office, 78 (Turkey), FO 78/608, fol. 37.
Ardeleanu, Constantin, “Some Information on the Prisons of Galaţi at the Middle of the 19th Century”, Danubius, 29 (2011), 163–168.
Dianu, Gr. I., Istoria închisorilor din România, Studiu comparativ [The History of Prisons in Romania. A Comparative Study] (Bucharest: Tipografia Curţii Regale F. Göbl Fii, 1901).
Enciclopedia României, vol. I, Statul [The Encyclopaedia of Romania, vol. I, The State] (Bucharest: Imprimeria Naţională, 1936).
Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).
Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).
Pohrib, Adrian, Din istoria poliţiei române. Poliţia oraşului Galaţi între anii 1832 şi 1949. Istoric şi documente [From the History of Romanian Police. The Police of Galaţi City between 1832 and 1949. History and Documents] (Galaţi: Agaton, 2013).
Rădulescu, C., Raport general asupra închisorilor centrale şi aresturilor preventive pe anul 1907–1908 [General Report on Central Prisons and Preventive Arrests], presented to the Minister of Home Affairs on 6 May 1908] (Bucharest: Imprimeria Statului, 1908).