OPINION

Corrective policy?

The recent drug-related deaths at Korydallos prison do not reveal anything we don’t already know, but they do highlight two interrelated and enduring problems: the detention conditions in our prisons, and the use of drugs – inside and outside prison – which is facilitated by an imperfect penitentiary system. The detention conditions of the inmates are nightmarish as convicts of all ages, nationalities and criminal backgrounds are forced to live together. It is under such circumstances that smuggling gangs are formed, as the Justice Ministry is well aware. And it’s not just drugs that they smuggle. What we need is a penitentiary policy in favor of prisoners that would provide incentives for them to reduce their sentences. But the existence of an effective corrective policy in Korydallos is inconceivable – especially under the existing prison staff. The Justice Ministry is handling the prison problem as a simple case of overcrowding, seeking to establish larger prisons and more of them. But when 40 percent of detainees have been convicted for drug-related offenses and a large proportion of them are illegal immigrants – whose crimes or convictions we know nothing about – the chief problem we are facing is not one of overcrowding. We produce too many prisoners – one of the most abhorrent forms of social repression.