The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Prison - Minister, something is clearly wrong

Tuesday, 21 September 2021, 08:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri has kept Alexander Dalli in charge of the prison, despite the serious concerns over his style of leadership.

13 deaths have occurred in prison over the past three years. A number of them were suicides. Something is clearly wrong and is not working right.

The minister was asked during an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday whether he still thinks Dalli is the right person for the job.

“I always said that I take decisions based on facts. I will do the same today (...) At times there was speculation. I decide on facts, such as on inquiries which conclude for example. In the coming days I hope to have in hand the copy of the last inquiry. I would also have the report of the inquiry that I had appointed. So every time I come to take a decision, I would do so based on facts, as that is my obligation as a minister.”

The minister’s answer implies that Dalli’s position is dependent on what the inquiries will uncover.

It must be pointed out however, that perhaps an inquiry into the prison procedures as a whole should have started far earlier than it did. And failure for that to have happened lies solely with the minister.

Something is clearly wrong with the prison system, and something needs to be done. The prison leadership situation needs to be tackled.

The minister also mentioned that there is order now in the prison when there was none before. If that is the case, one must question how that order was brought about? Was it brought about in the right way or the wrong way?

Should the inquiry find that prison procedures are too harsh, then Dalli must be removed, and the minister would also need to personally carry responsibility.

During the interview, the minister did mention some things, however, which are quite positive.

Firstly, the government recently announced the introduction of electronic tagging for certain offences. This is a step in the right direction. At least such people would be able to keep working or studying, thus being in a better position to rehabilitate themselves.

The minister had also mentioned another possible future change. “There should be three levels within our prison system. The first is electronic tagging. The second is low or lower security prisons. The third level is a high security prison. One of the problems we currently have is that, unfortunately, everyone is in the same boat, from the biggest criminals to a person who is in jail but likely doesn’t have a criminal character.”

The idea of splitting up the hardened prisoners from others who could be placed in a lower security prison is not a bad one. Indeed, having the two mixed as currently occurs might negatively affect the rehabilitation of a number of prisoners.

One hopes that such a move, coupled with intense steps towards more rehabilitative measures, could indeed lead to less repeat offenders.

  • don't miss