Prisons to be closed in cost cutting bid

THE GOVERNMENT has pledged to reform Portugal’s harsh and outdated prison system. Last week, Minister of Justice Alberto Costa announced he would shut some prisons, refurbish others and build new ones.

During a visit to Olhão prison, the minister also pledged to reduce the number of prisoners in Portugal, which presently stands at 13,000.

“The system needs to be modernised, with old, small and outdated prisons being shut down and replaced with new ones,” he said. The first reforms are to be introduced at the end of the present mandate in 2009, when the government intends to reduce the number of those detained with community type service penalties and electronic tagging. The minister admitted that the reform measures had as much to do with cutting costs as cutting numbers.