• Sweden edition

Pricey maximum security prisons remain half-full

Published: 26 Aug 2012 12:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Aug 2012 12:41 GMT+02:00

In 2011, only 43 percent of the prisons’ security units were in use, according to national broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR).

The Swedish Prison and Probation Service says that this is intentional and that they strategically avoid filling the units, as prisoners are often dangerous and cannot be placed together.

“We’ve said that roughly 50 percent is normal for these kinds of sections,” said Christer Isaksson, the service’s head of security, to SR.

“Many of the prisoners have strong personalities and cannot be placed together just any which way, because of the conflicts or destructive constellations that might form."

But Sweden’s minister for justice Beatrice Ask is concerned that the costs are too high.

“Our concern is naturally that the costs are very high. But I think it’s important to say this: we cannot question the need for secure units in Swedish prisons. We have serious crime, and people who constitute a danger, both to themselves and others,” said Beatrice Ask to SR.

The three security units were built following four spectacular escapes from Swedish prisons in 2004, and they cost 750 million kronor to build.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

03:03 August 27, 2012 by GLO
Get the Hanging Rope out. Close two Prisons. Start putting Violent Killers, Rape and Robbery criminals out. Touch a child, lights out....
05:10 August 27, 2012 by jimfromcanada
Count yourselves lucky that your maximun security prisons are not full. It means that the rehabilitation of offenders is working.
07:37 August 27, 2012 by isenhand
I wouldn't worry. The current governments policies should increase the crime rate. I'm sure we will fill the prisons.
09:04 August 27, 2012 by karex
#2 The situation masks reality. The prisons are not full because criminals are sent for a holiday stay in a mental hospital instead, thereby taking up room of patients who are really sick and actually do need the treatment and care. This and the laws are very lax and many people get away with murder instead of receiving a proper prison sentence.

The solution is easy: update the outdated laws to reflect the seriousness of the crimes with equivalent sentences, and send the criminals currently on holiday in the mental hospitals to prison where they belong.
09:55 August 27, 2012 by procrustes
Maybe they're not full because Swedish culture/society/government doesn't generate many hate-filled people such as frequent non-Swedish commenters in this blog.
12:59 August 28, 2012 by DAVID T
I have a friend who got sent to Prison for tax evasion - There was no room in the open prisons so they sent him to one of these high security prisons for a month - He was the only Swede in the whole prison
11:24 August 29, 2012 by John.Smith
Huh? I thought people would be happy that prisons are only half full??
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