No rise in prison deaths

The number of prisoner deaths occurring in Greek jails over the last 10 years has remained relatively steady with an average of two suicides per year, according to the Justice Ministry. «Deaths among inmates every year are due to a number of causes, such as serious illness, incurable disease, pathological causes and substance abuse during furlough,» the ministry said in a statement. «The number of suicides, every year, on average, does not exceed two,» the ministry added. There was a rise in deaths in 2006 to 54 from 47 the previous year but the numbers are steady on a relative basis, as prison populations are growing. «Each year, 600 new prisoners have been added to jails from 1998. Until now there has been an increase in inmates to 11,120,» the ministry added. In a bid to ease overcrowded conditions at correctional facilities, the government plans to complete by the beginning of next year the construction of five new jails. So far this year, 46 prisoners have died in Greek prisons.