Prague, April 2 (CTK) – It is necessary that new prisons be built in the Czech Republic in order to make the present ones less overcrowded and help improve the conditions of working with convicts, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) said in a debate on TV Prima yesterday.

A number of localities have been preliminarily chosen for possible building of prison facilities, Pelikan said, without specifying them.

There were 22,810 convicts and suspects in Czech prisons as of the end of March, which means almost 110 percent of the prisons’ capacity, according to the Prison Service data.

The main problem are repeat offenders, or the frequent return of the same people to jail. Evidently, the problem of these people’s employment and debts must be solved, Pelikan said.

“We have worked insufficiently with them so far. There are too many of them [in prisons], which makes the task difficult for us,” Pelikan said.

That is why new prisons are urgently needed, he said.

He mentioned the situation in Kraliky, a small east Bohemian town, whose inhabitants have put up resistance to the ministry’s plan to construct a new prison facility there.

“I still do not know whether the prison will be in Kraliky or not,” he said.

He said the issue has been misused by populists who incited the public to launch protests.

Arguments such as that an elementary school is located near the potential future prison are irrational, Pelikan said, pointing to the Pankrac prison in Prague. It is surrounded by apartment houses, which has never caused any problems, he said.

Last year, the Kraliky town hall staged a referendum on the Justice Ministry’s plan to build a women’s prison in the town.

About 45 percent of locals took part in the referendum. Out of them, 86 percent (1348 people) voted against the construction of the prison.

The local referendum, nevertheless, is not binding on the ministry. The law enables to build prison facilities even in spite of people’s disagreement, Pelikan said.