Authorities ponder prison drug problem

Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras called an emergency summit with representatives of the country’s penitentiary system yesterday following the death of at least three prison inmates of drug overdoses within 10 days. «We are not closing our eyes to a problem that exists both inside and outside prisons,» Papaligouras said, stressing that the government has already undertaken an initiative for the rehabilitation of 4,500 drug users currently in jail. According to the ministry’s general secretary Panos Panouris, airport-style detectors introduced into Greek jails in 2002 «have not been effective.» Drugs are brought into prisons by visitors, inmates returning from furloughs and by jail staff, Panouris conceded, adding that no proof exists but that such practices are «known to take place.» Some 90 inmates have died in the country’s jails in the past 11 months, most of them from drug overdoses.