A new chance should be given to everyone who wants to mend their ways and make a new start.

This is what Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva said today in Stara Zagora at the liturgical ritual to consecrate the first temple in the penitentiary system aimed mainly for the relatives of the persons deprived of liberty coming to visit. The chapel St. Mary Mother of God – Annunciation was built entirely with donations and the voluntary work of inmates, in a similar way to the other four temples at Stara Zagora Prison.

The consecration was carried out by Stara Zagora Metropolitan Bishop Cyprian. It was also attended by the Vice President of the National Assembly Emil Hristov, Stara Zagora Regional Governor Gergana Mirkova, Director General of Directorate General Execution of Punishments Commissar Vasil Miladinov, representatives of the judiciary, academia and others.

Minister Tsacheva presented as a gift to Stara Zagora Prison Head Senior Commissar Ivan Karushkov an icon of St. Ivan Rilski and wished him that the saint would guard over both those deprived of liberty and their relatives as well as the staff working there.

The Justice Minister also commented that, pursuant to the Execution of Punishments and Detention in Custody Act, the places for deprivation of liberty provide access to clergy from the religious denominations registered in Bulgaria. The clergy have the right to meet with inmates alone and the people espousing different religions have equal rights. The places for deprivation of liberty appoint to staff positions clergy from the denomination espoused by the prevailing number of inmates at the respective prison. In this regard, the staff positions envisaged for Directorate General Execution of Punishments include positions for clergy appointed half time under labour contracts.

Chapels have been built at all prisons. Some prison dormitories also have functioning temples. The last chapel to be built is in Burgas Prison. Sts. Peter and Paul was consecrated by Sliven Metropolitan Bishop Yoannikiy in August of this year.