‘There is no reason to use solitary confinement as a punishment’ – Prof Azzopardi

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The dean of the Faculty for Social Welfare, Professor Andrew Azzopardi has claimed that there is no reason why solitary confinement at the Corradino Correctional Facility should continue to be used while reiterating the negative impact that such a kind of punishment has on a person.

Professor Azzopardi was speaking to Fr Joe Borg on 103FM’s Newsbook Hour on Saturday morning. The Dean of the Faculty of Social Well Being had released a statement earlier this month in which he said he could not remain passive while this practice continued to go on and stated his readiness for his faculty to provide a helping hand to find alternatives.

He explained that solitary confinement is defined as a person serving a prison sentence being removed from the general prison population, into a solitary cell. Generally a person in isolation is deprived of many privileges as a result.

Solitary confinement does not, ‘make our communities safer’ – Professor Azzopardi

The Maltese Professor added that a person can be sent into insulation under the authorization of the Director of the Prison itself as well as under the direction of a court, as defined under the Criminal Code. He referred to the case of Nizar al-Gadi who was found guilty of killing his wife the former Margaret Mifsud. Al Gadi had gone to trial and been given life imprisonment and a sentence of 50 days a year in solitary confinement during his jail term.

The Dean said that although the measure is one of the tools that the prison Director has at his disposal to deliver punishment, it is also very expensive. He stated that a person is kept in isolation costs more for taxpayers. He also added that research had consistently shown that solitary confinement has a negative impact on a person’s psychology but it doesn’t end there. Following on from the immediate impact, there are also long term consequences.  Profs. Azzopardi concluded by saying that he sees nothing reformative in breaking a person’s spirit.

Prison is a hotel?

When asked if prison had become more like a hotel, Professor Azzopardi explained that anyone visiting someone in jail knows that this is not true. He stressed that several aspects have improved in recent years, listing a number of examples.