Nicosia Central Prisons could be featured on NETFLIX series “Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons” if a deal goes through, with local authorities hoping to showcase an alternative penitentiary model on the popular streaming service.
According to local media, Cyprus-based Greek film producer Alexander Leontaritis has been in negotiations with the management of Nicosia Central Prisons to establish whether the island’s prison system could be included on NETFLIX’s hit documentary series.
The American media content creator and provider has streamed four seasons focusing of the world’s toughest prisons, where a journalist travels to different countries to explore prisons and show real life behind bars.
According to Philenews, Leontaritis says he was approached by an agency that maintains professional links with NETFLIX in an effort to negotiate access to Nicosia Central Prisons for a documentary.
“The production team was drawn to the human approach towards inmates in the prison, the operating model in use, the fact that prison wardens came to Cyprus to see this model in action, as well as the rehabilitation programme,” Leontaritis told Philenews.
But the NETFLIX series is mostly known for tough and brutal life inside the world’s toughest prisons, with journalist Raphael Rowe literally roughing it while being locked up with convicts including dangerous criminals.
Rowe, who was himself one of three men wrongfully imprisoned on murder charges back in 1988, was released in 2000 after a court of appeals overturned their conviction. He has been speaking publicly against botched investigations ever since.
The British presenter, who ended up studying journalism and even landed a job with the BBC shortly after he was free, went on to help others overturn wrong convictions before deciding to voluntarily become prisoner once again to show life in prisons around the world.
Leontaritis, who has already visited the island’s central prisons, says the highlight in Nicosia would be the alternative penitentiary model, which includes open prisons for some inmates, education programmes, and other activities.
The alternative approach in prisons has already emerged as an additional theme within the NETFLIX documentary series.
Nicosia Central Prisons Warden Anna Aristotelous reportedly said it was an honour for the prison to receive offers from big production companies.
“This confirms and recognizes the work that is being done in the penitentiary, which is based on a human approach without a punitive agenda,” Aristotelous said.
Local media also reported that another proposal was made back in November 2019 but it never materialized.
Access to specific locations and inmates would require prior approval with reports saying the deal is expected to be finalized this winter
The Greek producer, who is known to have professional connections abroad, said Rowe would come to Cyprus after the completion of location scouting and casting.
But nothing has been signed yet, Aristotelous clarified, saying visits were expected to take place in December and January.
Aristotelous took over the prison following a number of incidents including inmate deaths and suicides, with a new system in the last few years focusing on an alternative model.
Nicosia Central Prisons houses all sorts of convicted criminals, with offences ranging from failure to pay debts and petty crimes to burglary and murder. A bill proposal currently being debated in the House could provide tools for pushing judges to consider alternative sentencing for certain crimes.
The prison also houses the Republic of Cyprus’ first and only serial killer, Nikos Metaxas also known as Orestis, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of five women and two children, all of whom had been reported missing to authorities.
His arrest and conviction came after the accidental discovery of a corpse in an abandoned mine, with state authorities later apologizing for not doing enough to investigate missing person complaints.
Metaxas said he would be willing to talk behind bars if he could help experts get behind his killer mind.
According to reports, access to specific locations and inmates would require prior approval with the deal expected to be finalized this winter.
The new series showcasing Cyprus prisons could be streamed as early as 2021.