As with Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, it is up to the surveillance court that handles the cases of the inmates held in the Catllar facility to decide whether Forcadell is granted the leave she has requested. Unlike what happens with any leave longer than three days, the benefit can be granted before a favourable judgement is handed down and then taken away, if the judge turns it down. This means that Carme Forcadell will be leaving the Mas d’Enric prison in the coming days to start doing voluntary work and look after a member of her family. One of the reasons the former Speaker had given to support her request was her mother’s health. She has also asked to be allowed to do voluntary work —Forcadell is retired now— but no details have emerged as to which NGOs she will be helping out.
The former Speaker of the Catalan parliament will still be a category 2 inmate, but thanks to Article 100.2 of the prison system’s regime she will enjoy several benefits that category 3 inmates enjoy ordinarily. The main one is day-time leave during the week. In order to apply for weekend leave Forcadell with either have to wait until she has served a quarter of her sentence o be classed into category 3. For now she will be going back to her prison cell in Mas d’Enric every evening on the three weekdays when she will be given day-time leave. At weekends and the other two weekdays, she will remain in jail.
One of the last to be given leave
Forcadell’s leave programme will allow her to be released a year before she serves the first quarter of her sentence. Following her conviction for a crime of sedition, Spain’s Supreme Court imposed an 11.5 year prison sentence on the former Speaker and she will be allowed to request leave through to February 2021. This is in part because of the lengthy prison sentence she received after the failed independence bid in 2017, but also because she was not imprisoned until 23 March 2018, whereas the two Jordis have been locked up since 16 October 2017. Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn have been in prison since 2 November 2017.
As with the other political prisoners, once Forcadell has served one fourth of her sentence, she will be allowed to apply for up to a full week’s worth of leave at one time, but no more than 36 days per year. Inmates are also allowed to combine that leave with some outings that must first be authorised by the prison board.
Besides the rules and regulations that apply to penitentiary facilities, the PSOE is looking to reform Spain’s criminal code, which might have a bearing on Forcadell’s situation, as well as that of the other Catalan political prisoners. The Spanish government has gradually been disclosing details of the intended changes —the latest is that it will become a crime to glorify the Franco regime— but lowering or scrapping the penalty for the crime of sedition is something that would be commensurate to the length of each individual sentence.