Greek prisons need reforming

Outrageous reports about drug use in Greece’s top-security Korydallos Prison inevitably raise questions about conditions inside that institution. Inmates die from drug use and their death is kept secret from the public. Others are transferred in a state of coma to the prison clinic only to be saved at the last moment. Some of the inmates have gone as far as to install a homemade still, mixing alcohol with their pills as a drug substitute. News like the recent drug death of a 23-year-old inmate, which was not announced to the media, have shocked public opinion. Worse, according to reports another youth was found dead in his cell after using drugs a few days ago. The news about drugs circulating inside Greece’s largest prison has not come as a surprise. People do not underestimate prisoners’ almost perverse inventiveness when it comes to smuggling narcotics into the penitentiary. At the same time, however, most are aware that drugs would not reach the inmates in such big quantities were it not for a helping hand by prison officials. People are upset because they realize that nothing has changed since the times when a notorious prison guards’ union would say that «there is nothing that cannot be transferred inside a prison save a tank – and that is because it won’t fit through the door.» It is unacceptable that although Greece’s supposedly safest jail is in such sorry shape, no guard or administrative official has been removed from his post or even been subjected to disciplinary action. If these civil servants are unable to ensure the proper functioning of the country’s penitentiary system, then failure to remove them from their posts and to take strict measures is a question of political responsibility. The government must take swift action and prevent the continuation of this unacceptable situation.

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