The government has commissioned a study on the Corradino prison to determine whether it requires an infrastructural overhaul or if a brand new facility was required, according to the Home Affairs Ministry.
The preliminary study on the possible overhaul is expected to be handed over to the government in the first quarter of this year.
A spokeswoman for the ministry said the report, being referred to as a “prison brief”, was commissioned last year and is meant to set the ball rolling on a much needed upgrade to the Corradino Correctional Facility.
The brief document, the spokeswoman said, would be looking at “projecting” the facility for the coming years, based on the experience and information gathered by a team of experts.
Built in 1842, living conditions at the Paola prison were decried by the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee in a report back in 2016, which described the situation there as “generally poor” with “ingrained dirt” on the walls.
The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment also identified problems with the showers and drainage systems.
Then last year, an investigation by the Times of Malta had found that about 120 prison inmates had no flushing toilet in their cell.
Cells in the old division were not designed to have flushing toilets, since they were regarded as a security risk at the time the facility was built.
The prison has since been upgraded a few times, with the addition of newer wings.
Meanwhile, the spokeswoman said that once the first document is finalised, a second brief, this time on the design, will be commissioned, and a final proposal eventually published. This, she said, would mean either re-designing or actually demolishing and re-building part or all of the prison.
The ministry spokeswoman was reacting to a letter published in Times of Malta last Friday.
The letter raised concerns about inmate overcrowding at Corradino and urged the authorities to take action.
“Compared to the cost of power stations, the Gozo tunnel, roadworks etc., the expense of building a prison, much larger than the existing one, would be like a drop in the ocean,” the letter reads.
There is no need for luxuries in a prison, it adds, after all a “prison is not a hotel”.
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