Maltese justice system creates recidivists and does not reform criminals: Mark Anthony Sammut

Nationalist MP Mark Anthony Sammut says delays in courts leading to rehabilitated inmates returning to prison for crimes they committed decades ago

Corradino Correctional Facility (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Corradino Correctional Facility (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Nationalist MP Mark Anthony Sammut recounted the story of an inmate who returned to prison after being incarcerated 13 years ago for drug charges, despite having reformed himself from earlier crimes.

“This shows the complete breakdown of our country’s justice system,” Sammut told parliament during the Budget debate. 

He said the inmate, Brian, after serving a drug-related sentence, started working and reforming himself. Even during his time in prison, he obtained both A and B light licenses, and graduated as an Engineer from MCAST. He also got married and had two children.

“Not long after his release, Brian was incarcerated again. Not because he relapsed. Not because he needed to reform. No, because he had committed other crimes before he rehabilitated himself,” Sammut said.

He said the Attorney General (AG) decided against combining the two similar cases into one compilation, resulting in longer delays to the inmate’s cases.

“This is the same AG who lets the big criminals go free and orders the police to find reasons not to prosecute them, while imposing the maximum sentences on drug victims,” Sammut claimed.

“Now Brian and his wife have to explain to their children how their father, who they always knew as a role-model, needs to leave his family and return to prison,” he said. “Tell me who can make them understand that their father, after rehabilitating his life, is going to prison for mistakes he made before they were born!”

He said the Court needs much more discretion to consider the broader picture, especially when not discussing violent or murder-related crimes but people who were once victims of drugs.

He also said the country should consider better rehabilitative remedies.

“It’s easy sometimes to condemn, easy to point fingers. But from the few experiences I’ve had speaking with prisoners, I realize that the worst people aren’t the ones in prison. There are people who have done far worse things, with much more malicious and harmful intentions, premeditated, and without putting their lives in danger due to certain circumstances placed upon them, including those we see here in this Chamber, but others, debtors hidden by the police. The reality is that many prisoners, with a little love and help, can become exemplary citizens,” Sammut said.

He said recidivism figures do not augur well for Malta’s justice system.

“Let’s see a legal system and policies that put forward those who leave reformed prison and are ready to change their lives, instead of policies and a system that keeps them trapped, a system that, instead of giving them a second chance, places them in a vicious circle from which no one benefits, but rather creates more victims behind them,” he said.