NEWS

Law for early prison release extended, revised

TAGS: Crime, Justice

A controversial law that was introduced by the leftist-led government three years ago to ease overcrowding at Greek prisons by granting early release to offenders with health problems has been extended by Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou with some provisions aimed at ensuring that the reform is not abused by inmates.

The so-called Paraskevopoulos law, named after former minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, has prompted objections from across the political spectrum with a recent spike in violent crime being partially attributed to the law’s provisions. Instances of serious offenders being released and committing even more heinous crimes have fueled the most vehement objections.

The 52-year-old drug dealing convict accused of the brutal murder of a 32-year-old tax officer is a case in point. Another case that prompted angry reactions was that of Aristides Floros, a former executive of power supplier Energa who got early release from prison for embezzlement using a doctor’s certificate that turned out to be a forgery. His case prompted a prosecutors’ investigation which uncovered a similar instance of forgery and led corruption prosecutors to evidence of a criminal racket issuing forged health documents to get early release for convicts.

Under the new provisions, if an offender who secures early release with the Paraskevopoulos law reoffends and is convicted to one to three years in prison, they will be obliged to serve the full length of their original sentence.

The new provisions will retain a set of exemptions laid out by Stavros Kontonis, Kalogirou’s predecessor, namely that those convicted of serious crimes such as manslaughter and rape should not be eligible for early release. In such cases, convicts may be able to get early release by wearing an electronic security bracelet.

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