Prisons and Parole in Contemporary Greece
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN CONTEMPORARY GREECE: INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES, pp. 557-591, L. K. Cheliotis and S. Xenakis, eds., Peter Lang, 2011
RELEASE FROM PRISON: EUROPEAN POLICY AND PRACTICE, pp. 213-236, N. Padfield, D. van Zyl Smit and F. Dünkel, eds., Willan Publishing, February 2010
GREECE, L. K. Cheliotis, 2010
Posted: 24 Nov 2011
Date Written: 2010
Recent years have witnessed an immense growth in the use of imprisonment in Greece. Overcrowding in prison establishments is staggering and living conditions are deplorable, turning unrest and even riots into commonplace occurrences. With international watchdogs and national pressure groups joining prisoners in the chorus of outcry, the Greek state has been promising to effectuate fundamental reforms, including a decisive turn towards decarceration. This is meant mainly in the twofold sense of promoting diversionary alternatives at the pre-sentencing and sentencing stages, on the one hand, and enhancing parole opportunities for those behind bars, on the other. Promises, however, have proved to be sheer rhetoric. This chapter begins by addressing the issue of how to gauge the scale of imprisonment in contemporary Greece. With reference to heretofore ignored indicators (i.e., annual prisoner caseloads and annual prison admissions), it is revealed that rates of imprisonment in the country are higher than commonly reported. Moving from description to explanation, it is further shown that imprisonment under conviction has risen at a faster pace than pre-trial detention; that the inflation of imprisonment under conviction has resulted from a tremendous rise in the duration of stay in prison, more so than from a rise in the rate of prison admissions as such; that the extended duration of stay in prison under conviction has stemmed from the increasing length of custodial sentences and the parallel shrinking of rates of discharge on parole; and that the upward trend in the use of imprisonment can be traced to the so-dubbed ‘liberal’ 1980s.
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