A 30-year-old prisoner who recently attempted suicide had been sent to solitary confinement for ten days or more for over 23 hours a day, Peppi Azzopardi has claimed.
Azzopardi, a renowned activist for prisoners’ rights, said he spoke to the prisoner’s mother and is releasing the information with her permission.
“From the information I have, he is in a serious state at hospital,” he said. “His mother called me up in tears. You can’t imagine what this family is going through. This young man had a drug problem, was sent to prison, and was released practically dead.”
Azzopardi said the young man is a recidivist, having served a prison sentence for drug-related issues in the past, during which he was also sent to solitary confinement.
He added that he had displayed suicidal thoughts during his first prison sentence.
“Aren’t there records of the first time he was there which show he had suicidal thoughts? Or could they not give a hoot about these people?”
Azzopardi warned that solitary confinement is the worst possible place to send a drug addict who is kicking the habit.
“These people would already be feeling worthless, and then they get tossed into a cell and forgotton about.”
“Prisoners who are imprisoned for drug-related offences should have their liberty taken away, but in a place run by Caritas, Sedqa or Oasi that is full of love.”
Following this latest suicide attempt by a prisoner, the Home Affairs Ministry set up an internal inquiry, chaired by psychiatrist Anton Grech, to look into the assessment of the mental and physical health of both new and longstanding inmates.
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