Aída Martínez-Gómez Gómez, University of Alicante, Spain
Although Law theories place the serving of custodial sentences within criminal procedures as their final stage, the reality shows that the increasing improvements in the provision of quality translation and interpreting services in court proceedings do not seem to reach the prison system. Expert reports -such as those contained in the volume Foreigners in European Prisons*– insist on the fact that measures for language and cultural integration of foreign inmates are scarce and most often based on the goodwill of staff and prison population alike – rather than on official policies.
This paper aims at exploring daily communication between prison staff and non-Spanish speaking inmates in the penitentiary institutions of the region of Valencia (Spain) through their own views and experiences gathered in fieldwork conducted in 2008. After a short introduction on the applicable legislation and official recommendations involving foreign prisoners in Spain, the paper will focus on the analysis of the situations where the language barrier is present and the measures taken to overcome it, including descriptions of the translator/interpreter’s profile and tasks, and the opinions on these measures by the interlocutors involved.
*Van Kalmthout, A.M.; F.B.A.M. Hofstee-van der Meulen & F. Dünkel (eds.) (2007): Foreigners in European Prisons. The Netherlands: Wolf Legal Publishers