Proposals from the justice ministry to decongest prisons will be sent to the president next week, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said on Friday.

“The president will assess the proposals that aim to decongest prisons. He and his team will study them so we can move forward to receive cabinet’s approval for the changes that must happen without a shadow of a doubt in the prisons.”

During a visit to the central prisons, she said her ministry was exploring a number of ideas to introduce more programmes that concern reintegrating prisoners into society, as well as programmes tackling rehabilitation and education.

A memorandum of understanding between the ministry and employer organisations “has exceeded every expectation” as 62 individuals released from prison founds jobs last month alone, she noted.

The ministry is also trying to tackle the contentious issue of deactivating mobile phones in prisons. “This is not a matter we can resolve on our own,” Procopiou said.

Currently the transport ministry is working on “some very specific proposals” and they are expected to offer solutions “in the next few months.”

Asked to comment on the fact that a member of the police force is now managing the prisons, Procopiou said “we have to look forward and improve, not return to practices of the past that do not comply with human rights or the spirit of the EU.

“I think it goes without saying that we are building and not destroying the prisons. This is our philosophy and through these efforts we will submit proposals before the president.”

Procopiou said she could not elaborate on discussions surrounding bracelets for prisoners as this also concerned parliament.

“My visit to the prisons are concrete proof that matters related to prisons and the rights of prisoners will be at the centre of our attention, activities and priorities at the justice ministry.”

She added she was briefed over the changes that have taken place in the prisons in the past few years, as well as current problems and challenges they are facing.