The president and new members of the prison parole board were sworn in on Wednesday in a ceremony at the presidential palace attended by President Nicos Anastasiades.
Appointed to the role of president of the parole board was former judge Lemonia Kaoutzani, while lawyer Giorgos Michanikos, social worker Maro Antoniou, psychiatrist Agathi Valanidou, and psychologist Tina Pavlou, were also sworn in as members.
All but Kaoutzani and Antoniou were continuing on as members of the previous board.
Addressing the ceremony, Anastasiades said that the parole board is tasked with the periodical re-evaluation of the detention of long-term convicts but is also accountable to society to which they must free prisoners who will respect the laws and rights of society.
“Taking into account both the academic studies of all members and their demonstrated professional career in various positions related to the field of correctional treatment, the utilisation of their experience will further contribute to the positive functioning of the institution thus far,” Anastasiades said.
The board is also expected to contribute in a crucial way to the modernisation of the penitentiary system, Anastasiades said.
He added that close cooperation between the justice ministry and prison management has led to “radical changes” in both the functioning of prisons and the rights of prisoners.
These changes, Anastasiades continued, involve the constant education and training of prison employees, the detainment of prisoners in conditions that are safe and respect human rights, individualised support, care and the enhancement of prisoners’ potential for education and work, with the ultimate goal their smooth integration back into society.
This year, more than 400 prisoners – over 75 per cent – are partaking in the prison educational system, while 15 per cent are students in academic institutions, a figure that Anastasiades said is one of the highest EU-wide.