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What Life in a Russian Penal Colony Could Be Like for Brittney Griner

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(CNN) -- US women's basketball star Brittney Griner is being transferred to a Russian penal colony, where conditions are often tough and have drawn concern from international watchdogs.Russia's infamous penal colonies are unlike conventional incarceration in the West.

Here's what you need to know. Where has Griner been sent?Griner's attorneys said they didn't immediately know exactly where her final destination will be.

That is not unusual: the process of taking a person to a penal colony is conducted in secrecy in Russia, with relatives and lawyers often unaware of where a prisoner is being sent for several days, according to Amnesty International.

Last month, Griner lost her appeal against a nine-year drug sentence. She was detained in February and convicted in August of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia.She has repeatedly apologized for bringing a small amount of cannabis into the country, where she played basketball in the off-season."Our primary concern continues to be BG's health and well-being," her agent Lindsay Colas said. "As we work through this very difficult phase of not knowing exactly where BG is or how she is doing, we ask for the public's support in continuing to write letters and express their love and care for her."Griner's detention has raised concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in Russia's war against Ukraine.What is a penal colony?The vast majority of Russia's prisons are in fact penal colonies, where inmates are housed in barracks instead of cells and are often put to work, according to a report by Poland-based think tank the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).More than 800 such facilities existed across Russia as of 2019, the organization said.Most were built during the Soviet.

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