Spain Turns to Corruption Rehab for Officials Who Can't Stop Stealing 改革貪腐歪風 西班牙設勒戒所
Carlos Alburquerque isn't your typical rehab candidate. He's a 75-year-old grandfather living in Córdoba, a city in southern Spain. He was a town notary before he retired in 2015. He hasn't touched drugs or alcohol in years.
"Repairing the damage is what is left for me in this life," said Alburquerque, who is serving a four-year prison sentence for stealing around 400,000 euros (nearly $500,000) in his work drawing up contracts and deeds.
Over the course of 32 sessions in an austere conference room in Córdoba's penitentiary, Alburquerque will be monitored by a team of psychiatrists. He will sit for group therapy sessions with titles like "personal abilities" and "values." He is, in some ways, the guinea pig of an experiment meant to answer an age-old question: Buried deep in the soul of a swindler like Alburquerque, might there be an honest man?
That such a program exists in Spain may say much about the country's belief in second chances as it does about how corruption has captured the public imagination here. Flip open a newspaper or turn on the radio: You will hear of schemes, scandals and skulduggery.
But at least, corruption rates in Spain were no worse than in other European nations, Ortiz said, just 5% of all crimes.It was Spain's will to rehabilitate the offenders that set it apart from the rest, Ortiz said.
Nine prisons are running programs so far, which began in March. Prisoners don't get reduced sentences for joining, but officials say participating is looked on favorably when it comes time to request parole.
Yet for all the volunteers, Ortiz still thinks his biggest challenge may be convincing Spain's corrupt officials that there actually might be something wrong with them.
For that, the government turned to Sergio Ruiz, a prison psychiatrist who helped design the program. Ruiz said that in addition to getting participants to recognize their flaws in group therapy, inmates would eventually be asked to participate in "restorative justice" sessions where they would ask for forgiveness from their victims.
Now it is time to do the same for indoor air quality, according to a group of 39 scientists. In a manifesto of sorts published in the journal Science, the researchers called for a "paradigm shift" in how citizens and government officials think about the quality of the air we breathe indoors.
The timing of the scientists' call to action coincides with the nation's large-scale reopening as coronavirus cases steeply decline: Americans are anxiously facing a return to offices, schools, restaurants and theaters — exactly the type of crowded indoor spaces in which the coronavirus is thought to thrive.
There is little doubt now that the coronavirus can linger in the air indoors, floating far beyond the recommended 6 feet of distance, the experts declared. The accumulating research puts the onus on policymakers and building engineers to provide clean air in public buildings and to minimize the risk of respiratory infections, they said.
"We expect to have clean water from the taps," said Lidia Morawska, the group's leader and an aerosol physicist at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. "We expect to have clean, safe food when we buy it in the supermarket. In the same way, we should expect clean air in our buildings and any shared spaces."
Meeting the group's recommendations would require new workplace standards for air quality, but the scientists maintained that the remedies do not have to be onerous. Air quality in buildings can be improved with a few simple fixes, they said: adding filters to existing ventilation systems, using portable air cleaners and ultraviolet lights — or even just opening the windows where possible.
Morawska led a group of 239 scientists who last year called on the World Health Organization to acknowledge that the coronavirus can spread in tiny droplets, or aerosols, that drift through the air. The WHO had insisted that the virus spreads only in larger, heavier droplets and by touching contaminated surfaces, contradicting its own 2014 rule to assume all new viruses are airborne.