(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
Bucharest: Romanian convicts may soon no longer be able to pen their way to shorter terms behind bars after numerous abuses of a literary early-release law the justice ministry said Tuesday.
A flood of literary works penned in prison by inmates ranging from footballers to corrupt public servants emerged after the law was passed in 2006 in one of Europe's poorest countries where graft is rife.
But the ministry and prosecutor's office said the legislation now faces being repealed amid an investigation into apparent abuses.
"According to prison administration figures the number of books published by detainees went from one a year between 2007 and 2010 to 90 in 2014 and 340 last year" Justice Minister Raluca Pruna told a news conference.
"Given the phenomenon has spiraled out of control I have proposed that the government repeal this arrangement via emergency decree" Pruna added.
A 2013 amendment to the original law allows convicts to lop 30 days off their sentence if they publish a work of literature or science while behind bars.
Jailbirds promptly found a penchant for writing and morphed into "men of letters."
One beneficiary was former Romania and Barcelona football great Gheorghe Popescu who trimmed time off a three-year sentence imposed in 2014 for a sports corruption scandal after writing four books about the beautiful game.
Others published still more works to gain release sometimes months early.
Anti-corruption prosecutors said they had opened an investigation as they suspected the system had become open to abuse.
A prisoner who wants to write an oeuvre requires a recommendation from a university professor who specialises in the area he wishes to cover before the request is screened by a special prison committee.
The writer then also has to find a publishing house willing to print his opus -- at his or her own expense.
But the prosecutors found there had been a "concerted" attempt by the professors publishers and prison "literary" committees to wave through the prisoners' production.
They allege many works were dashed off in as little as one day or in batches of several at a time.
Such cases proved prosecutors say that the prisoners "cannot be the true authors."
The media have meanwhile made claims of widespread plagiarism regarding works which for the most part have noticeably failed to make it as far as library bookshelves.