More than 12,000 inmates have been granted early release from prison in the past three years under a law aimed at reducing overcrowding at Greece’s penitentiaries, data from the Justice Ministry show.
The law, introduced in 2015 by the previous justice minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, has come under heavy criticism from opposition parties who claim it has partly contributed to a recent spate in violent crime by convicts who go back to their old ways after release.
Even after several amendments to the law, some 430-450 prisoners leave prison early every month, many of whom have been convicted of heinous crimes such as robbery and aggravated theft or involvement in drug cases.
In 2017 alone, 4,027 criminals were granted early release, including 320 inmates with robbery convictions, 1,137 jailed for theft, and 698 serving drug-related sentences.
The union of Greece’s prosecutors had warned in 2015 that the law “was tantamount to an annulment of the court rulings.”