The prison system in our country has been radically transformed in recent years, becoming as a model of study by experts from countries of the Council of Europe who visit our Prisons, said the Minister of Justice and Public Order, Ionas Nikolaou, speaking at the closing ceremony of the Prison School on Thursday.
In his address, Nikolaou said that besides the recognition of which Cypriot prisons have been recognized by international and European organizations as a model of study, it has recently proposed that the Council of Europe Prison Directors Conference takes place in Cyprus next May. “This is an honor for our prison system and for the Republic of Cyprus. It is for them an opportunity to study the prison system, which in a short time succeeded in overcoming the problems that were mainly highlighted over time in reports of the Torture Committees of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, and to move on to radical changes in areas that appeal to the Prison Directors’ Council of Member States of the Council of Europe”, he underlined.
To add that “the adoption of the framework for the provision of health services within Prisons, the continuous care of vulnerable prisoners by psychiatrists and mental health service nurses, as well as the operation of the Mental Health Center in Wing 10 have in recent years revived the provided mental health services as a model of study by experts from foreign countries, since suicide and self-injuries are frequent references in closed prisons, which in some cases have become a menace.
At the same time, there have been programs to inform and prevent the use of addictive substances and programs to support, address and facilitate user access to therapeutic structures, such as the referral of detainees to the Therapeutic Community of Agia Skepi and the implementation of the DANAI Closed Dissolution Program, which is expected to further develop by exploiting the refurbished Wing 10A. At the same time, detainees can visit treatment centers operating in prisons in Greece, which are marked as best practices, the successful completion of which may lead to conditional suspension of the sentence and/or obligatory recognition of mitigating circumstances”.
Referring to the Bill on the Revision of the Prison Law and the relevant Regulations submitted for legislative control, Nikolaou pointed out that there will be legal protection of the rights of the prisoners and innovative changes, orientated at the creation of a human-centered prison system in serving punishments and the strengthening of the processeses of reform and the productive social reintegration of detainees.
Furthermore, the Minister said that although overpopulation in prisons has fallen sharply in relation to previous years, it remains a problem that we are called upon to tackle within the prison policy of the state. “Indicatively, while in the past years the overpopulation reached 214%, having a capacity of 340 people and the population exceeding 700 prisoners, today the number of detainees is around 650 while the prison capacity has grown to 566 persons. Today, by laying down a policy for foreign prisoners – accounting for 45% of the total number of prisoners – the promotion of the legislation on the repatriation of foreign prisoners accused or convicted of illegal residence and/or work and the implementation of the electronic bracelet, it is expected that this number will be further reduced to keep it at the prison capacity levels”, he explained.
In conclusion, the Justice Minister referred to the study prepared by the Ministry of Justice for the preparation of a specific program for the implementation of the institution of community labour, as an alternative to the prison sentence, to the standards of corresponding programs of other countries./IBNA