NEWS

Seven new prisons by 2008

The crowding of 10,000 prisoners into jails made for 5,500 and with aging, poorly maintained infrastructure has created medieval conditions in the Greek penal system. Only one prison has been built over the last 15 years, in 2004, as a result of a steep rise in the crime rate. The PASOK government did nothing, not a single brick was laid for the prisons planned. Those awaiting trial and young offenders are crammed into the same cells as drug dealers and felons. This is the legacy we inherited. We are changing the current state of affairs with the policy we have formulated. We are constructing seven new prisons over a short period of time; a new prison in Trikala will be operational by the summer and last month the new prison at Domoko was delivered. The new prisons at Grevena and Elaionas, in Thebes, will be ready this summer, the Serres and Drama prisons in the autumn of 2007 and the new prison in Hania by early 2008. We have separated the offenders at all Greek prisons according to the type of offense and the sentence. We plan to establish second-opportunity schools in prisons to provide training to offenders. We are also improving their professional background by introducing new training programs based on the vacancies per specialization in the labor market. We have increased medical and nursing personnel in detention centers all over Greece. We have started cultural events as part of the Life Is Everywhere program, in which well-known names from art, literature and sport are taking part. This initiative, with over 300 events, will bring communication and hope to prisons. (1) Anastassis Papaligouras is the minister of justice.