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Cyprus announces social work scheme for offenders
2005-03-22 14:16:26

Nicosia, Mar 22 (CNA) -- Cypriot Ministers of Labour and Social Insurance, Christos Taliadoros, and Justice and Public Order, Doros Theodorou, as well as President of the Pancyprian Welfare Council Stavros Olympios announced today the implementation of social work without pay as an alternative prison sentence.

Speaking at a press conference, all three referred to the benefits of the practice of social work without pay in the social rehabilitation of offenders, especially youngsters.

Taliadoros said that in the first stage the practice would be implemented in organisations under the Social Welfare Department and Communal Welfare Councils.

''This will be the first phase and gradually, with experience, we will expand its implementation to other organisations,'' he said, adding that the High Court would inform the District Courts that they are authorised to impose such penalties, wherever appropriate.

He said this was yet another aim in the government's strategic plan that was being implemented.

Theodorou noted that apart from the various organisations, the practice will be implemented in local administration, in communities and municipalities, where there is a lot of work to be done.

He added that social work would be imposed for offences that carry a six-month sentence or a year to the most.

Theodorou said those convicted would ''do all sorts of social work'' that could include painting a building, making a garden and helping out in child and senior citizen homes, while in local administration this could mean working in parks.

He said six persons had been employed so far and that there would be quite a few volunteers from the Pancyprian Welfare Council to monitor the offenders.

Olympios said the courts would be the ones to determine, from a list of places, where each offender would carry out social work, based on a report from the Welfare Department.

Replying to questions, Theodorou said about 60 persons would be sent for social work initially and expressed hope that what is happening today will be a landmark in the reformatory sector.

Theodorou noted that with the social work practice, the prison wardens would have up to a 50 percent less burden and the state would be able to heave a sigh of relief both in finances and personnel.

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