Suicides in prison quadrupled under controversial director Alex Dalli’s tenure, official statistics show.
Figures provided by the Home Affairs Ministry show that in the four years that the maligned disciplinarian was at the helm of Corradino Correctional Facility, eight inmates died by suicide, compared to just two in the previous four years.
In the eight years before Dalli, double the length of his term, seven suicides were registered, still one less than in his four years in charge.
Dalli suspended himself from his position on November 10, buckling under public pressure after a string of suicides and deaths behind bars saw simmering concerns about his methods boil over.
A former army colonel, Dalli had run the prison since 2018.
While he was praised for weeding out drugs from Corradino, he had consistently been under fire for his unorthodox methods of discipline, which reportedly included a poster that told officials to “teach fear” and a restraining chair to which unruly inmates were strapped.
On the other hand, he has been praised by colleagues for breaking up prison violence, pushing for upgrades to the Victorian era facility, and overseeing a recruitment drive for rehabilitation professionals.
Robert Brincau, formerly of the Red Cross, who ran detention services at the prison, has been appointed acting director with a formal announcement on a permanent replacement expected this month.
A spokesperson for the Home Affairs Ministry said that the figures provided for prison deaths may not be completely accurate as records prior to 2013 are not believed to be accurate due to “the lack of a proper records system in prison” at the time.
“A traceable and effective filing system was introduced in 2013 and as such prison records became accountable,” the spokesperson said. She also said that the prison’s population had increased significantly over the past few years and that this ought to be taken into consideration when looking at figures on prison deaths and suicides.
According to the figures provided, between 2010 and 2018 the prison population hovered between 550 and just over 600.
The number of inmates has since shot up by around a third to roughly 800.
Meanwhile, the government is expected to announce a reform of prison operations in the coming days.
It is understood that an internal inquiry into prison operations was launched after an inmate died in his cell in August.