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New Democracy Moves to Restrict Jail Furloughs, End Abuses

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Korydallos prison in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yorgos KOntarinis)

ATHENS - Sixteen months after taking office, Greece's New Democracy government now is going to curtail furloughs for prisoners, such as those convicted of murder and terrorism who had been allowed vacations from jail under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.

There was no explanation why the administration waited so long to get tougher on a furlough system the Conservatives had blasted for being too lenient while they were out of office.

Legislation from the Citizens’ Protection Ministry seeks to crack down on what it describes as “mounting abuses” of the prison leave and transfer system, said Kathimerini of the plan.

Under the bill that will go to the Parliament controls for rubber-stamp approval, prisoners face stricter criteria to get furloughs while leave rights will also be linked to the severity of the crime for which prisoners are convicted, the report said.

Transfers from higher security to lesser security jails and prison farms will also have tighter guidelines as under SYRIZA even the most dangerous felons and killers, including terrorist mastermind Dimitris Koufodinas, were eligible. 

Under the new law, prisoners convicted of terrorism-related crimes, for example, will not be allowed to file for a transferalthough it wasn't said if they would still be eligible for furloughs, Koufodinas having gotten six.

Transfers will also be prohibited for prisoners who have faced disciplinary action during their incarceration or who have previously violated the terms of furlough and security in moving prisoners will be increa sed after reports some inmates had tried to escape during the interim process.

Similarly strict terms will be imposed on prisoners’ transfers to a hospital or mental health facility in order to prevent escape attempts and those complaining of psychological problems will be put under observation in the prison infirmary or placed under restriction for a period of time before being transferred to a specialized facility on the orders of the prison doctor.