Cyprus prisons feature on Netflix for good behaviour

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Cyprus central prisons will come under the spotlight when they feature in a new Netflix documentary on correctional institutions around the globe and their different approach to treating inmates.

The news was delivered by the prisons’ director Anna Aristotelous who said the viewing on-demand platform has agreed with the prison board to be included in a documentary series shedding light on conditions in prisons around the world.

Aristotelous said a British film crew will come to Cyprus and start filming inside the prisons in Nicosia, with a presenter talking to both staff and inmates.

“They will come to Nicosia in December or January,” she said. “Nothing has been signed yet, so the timing has not been finalised.”

Noting that this is the second time that Netflix has approached the central prisons about the series, Aristotelous said the online platform’s interest is “a huge honour and confirms the improvements we have made.”

Nicosia prisons regime will be compared to other prisons around the globe where conditions are harsher.

Netflix, with productions of its own, has started shooting in prisons in Norway where they follow a similar philosophy as the Cypriot model while scenes have already been shot from punitive prisons in other countries.

Reportedly, inmates told of Netflix’s venture, are willing to participate and share their experiences in Cyprus’ facility.

Despite being described as more humane than others, the prisons’ track record is far from impeccable.

In 2015, Cyprus ranked first among European countries for suicide rates in prison.

According to a Council of Europe report, Cyprus had the highest suicide rate among 50 European countries.

The highest suicide rates per 10,000 prisoners in 2014 were recorded in Cyprus, with 44.1, which was more than double of that of Norway, in second place, which recorded 16.1.

The Europe-wide average was 7.2.

Cyprus prisons did not record any suicides in 2016 and 2017 and just one in 2018 and another in 2019.

The central prisons have improved over recent years after a series of reforms and refurbishments.

Recently, the prisons administration adopted new practices and alternative penalties, especially for those sentenced for up to two years in jail.

Aristotelous said training programmes have been enriched, as were other actions that are beneficial to the system and the inmates, resulting in a reduction in repeat offenders after release.

Nicosia’s central prisons is a complex consisting of a men’s and women’s wing, along with an open prison, similar to a half-way house for non-violent offenders and those close to completing their sentence.

The series is expected to air in early 2021.