Cyprus Mail

Enough is enough, prisons and politics don’t mix

“Some of the people we work with will already have redeemed their lives. Others, no matter what we do, will be back in here again. And for some, our efforts will make all the difference. We will never know which group is which, but that should not serve as a deterrent to our efforts.”

Robert Ellis Gordon (1955-2012): writer and educator in prisons in the USA


“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Albert Einstein


Although there has been a short period of silence, the recent events surrounding the Nicosia Central Prison and the dismissal of the excellent young educators there are shocking and disappointing.

As a long time participant in the Nicosia Central Prison Education Program – 28 years – I have a clear understanding of its evolution and the prospects that have been stifled by the actions taken.

I have given my signature to two documents so far and will continue to stand by these young men until they are reinstated and progress continues!

This situation is metaphorically similar to the surgeon that is shocked by the fact that he has removed the wrong organ on the wrong patient! However, in the case of the educational programme at the Nicosia Central Prison, the doctor has not noticed and has already sown the patient shut.

The reckless removal of the essential organ will only be brought to his attention when another crisis arises.

The Cypriot community has the right to learn more about the positive aspects of corrections and rehabilitation in our prison. The shortsighted input of a fast-talking politician should not be misunderstood as reassuring. Where one gained their expertise in this area is essential.

Following two summers of [prison] suicides, our society became awkwardly exposed to the realities of our central prison which many thought was the five-star Club Med in Ayios Andreas near the British Council.

Many have said to me, “Ah, if I could only have the three meals a day with accommodation, life would be easy!” Many times people that are willing to give it some thought justify detention and deprivation as the proper means of correction, “they deserve it.”

However, there is a lot to discuss in our community concerning our youth without hope, the increase in destructive and belligerent behavior and how our central prison can become a dynamic correctional institution that is a dynamic part of socialisation. Stand with me to support the reinstatement of these knowledgeable young leaders and continue our conversation about the crime of punishment!

Steven Price, Associate Lecturer of Psychology at the University of Nicosia

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