Cyprus: released inmates ask to go back to prison

Four prisoners who were released from prison earlier this month have asked to be brought back because they have no place to go.

Nicosia central prisons director Anna Aristotelous said on Wednesday that two of the four prisoners were part of the early release of 130 inmates in early April as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus inside the island’s only correctional facility.

The two prisoners in question were 25 and 21 years old and were both arrested for burglary.

After being released they were given a €150 allowance from the state but have since failed to find a job and a permanent place to stay.

The third case involves a man who, after being released, returned to his home in Pallouriotissa, but again failed to find a job because of the lockdown and because all potential employers were asking for a clean criminal record.

The fourth and final case involves a young drug user who was detained for violating a court order.

Once released, he had nowhere to go and was often forced to sleep rough. He was also reported to have kept an impeccable behaviour while imprisoned.

The vice-president of the prisoners and ex-prisoners’ support group Yiannis Polychronis said that consultations are being held with all state services and local government organisations and very soon a strategic agreement on rehabilitating prisoners will be implemented.

“We will cooperate with municipalities around the country to find accommodation for ex-convicts who have nowhere to stay and we will also get in touch with businesses to facilitate their employment,” Polychronis said.

Aristotelous also admitted that the scenario for some prisoners who have been released during the coronavirus pandemic is very challenging.

“People who are released from prison and have no job or place to stay are faced with very difficult situations,” she said.

“Many of our prisoners who were released recently had no one to pick them up and, after realising they had no support system outside, they asked to be brough back to prison.”