Jails have 20 pct too many in­mates

Min­is­ter ad­mits over­crowd­ing, says some 500 new prison staff have to be hired

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greek prisons are at more than 20 per­cent over ca­pac­ity in terms of the num­ber of in­mates housed there and there is a short­age of per­son­nel to staff new fa­cil­i­ties, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Har­alam­bos Athana­siou ad­mit­ted yes­ter­day.

Athana­siou ap­peared be­fore Par­lia­ment’s jus­tice com­mit­tee to an­swer ques­tions on the state of Greek jails. He said that the prison sys­tem’s max­i­mum ca­pac­ity at the mo­ment is to hold 9,886 in­mates. How­ever, it is ac­tu­ally hold­ing nearly 12,000, said the min­is­ter.

“This is a statis­tic that sad­dens me,” said Athana­siou.

He said the gov­ern­ment is in the process of build­ing new jails or new wings to ex­ist­ing prisons but that it would also need to hire new staff, which comes into con­flict with the ef­fort to re­duce the num­ber of civil ser­vants.

“We are ask­ing for at least 500 prison em­ploy­ees,” said Athana­siou, adding that he has been in con­tact with the Fi­nance Min­istry about se­cur­ing th­ese hir­ings.

Ear­lier this year Athana­siou an­nounced a one-year pi­lot scheme to in­tro­duce elec­tronic tag­ging in a bid to ease over­crowd­ing at prisons. How­ever, the 1-mil­lion-euro scheme has not yet started be­cause two of the com­pa­nies that bid for the con­tract ap­pealed the decision to award the deal to another firm, the min­is­ter in­formed MPs.

“The tag will work well, we all have to support it,” said Athana­siou, adding that a court had re­cently re­jected the com­pa­nies’ ap­peals, paving the way for the scheme to be­gin. Pris­on­ers will have to pay 15 euros per day to wear a tag. They will also have to re­main at home while wear­ing the de­vice.

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