'Proposed reform to reduce number of suspects detained pending trial and free drug addicts early
Measures heralded by the government yesterday are aimed at decongesting the country’s seriously overcrowded jails by restricting pretrial detention to suspects charged with crimes carrying long sentences and reducing jail time for thousands of drug addicts convicted for minor narcotics offenses.
Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haris Kastanidis announced the measures as more than 3,300 inmates were reported to be staging hunger strikes in prisons across the country, demanding more civilized detention conditions.
Kastanidis’s proposed reform comprises two chief provisions: The first aims to create some breathing room in jails by reducing the number of people remanded in custody pending trial. If the amendment is approved, pretrial detentions will henceforth only apply to suspects charged with crimes that carry sentences of 20 years or more. Those charged with crimes that would incur terms of five or 10 years would be released on bail pending trial unless they are prior convicts or are deemed to be a flight risk. Those charged with crimes carrying sentences of up to five years will be able to buy off their sentences or work off a portion of their terms in the form of community service. The aim, in the minister’s words, is to create a system that stops “generating inmates for pretrial detention.”
The second provision of the minister’s reform foresees the more lenient treatment of some 4,500 drug addicts serving jail terms for minor narcotics offenses. If the reform is approved, convicts serving sentences of up to five years will be freed after serving two-fifths of their terms. Those serving terms ranging between five to 10 years would be freed after completing three-fifths of their sentences.'
from Greek daily Kathimerini 13/11/2009