Members of the prison guards’ union Isotita sent a letter to Justice Minister Anna Procopiou urging her to take measures against the issue of overcrowding in the Nicosia central prison.
“We need more comprehensive solutions to effectively address this long-standing problem,” the letter said.
Isotita, however, acknowledged that the situation has improved over the years. Nevertheless, the union urged that new prisons be built around the country, especially in big towns, such as Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos.
“This would not only alleviate overcrowding in the central prison, but would also translate into a better management of all prison facilities, which, in turn, could improve the prisoners’ reintegration into society,” the union said.
At the same time, Isotita also called on the justice ministry to give better consideration to imprisonment alternatives, such as probation, community service and restorative justice programmes.
It also urged the state to review some sentencing policies for people currently serving time, particularly for non-violent and drug-related offences.
“The implementation of less punitive sentences and the support for efforts aimed at the prisoners’ reintegration into society would massively reduce the prison population,” the letter said.
Finally, it called for an upgrade of the rehabilitation and education programmes currently in place at prisons, “in order to better equip prisoners with the necessary skills to successfully reintegrate into society after their release, thus reducing the likelihood of reoffending.”
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