Wrong of guards to stop inmate’s sex act

Staff at a Swedish prison had no right to interrupt an inmate and his girlfriend while they were having sex during an authorised visit simply because the couple's five-month-old daughter was also in the room, Sweden's Parliamentary Ombudsman (Justitieombudsmannen – JO) has ruled.

The incident took place in September 2010 at the Västervik Norra prison in eastern Sweden, prompting the inmate’s fiance to file a complaint with the ombudsman arguing that staff members at the prison behaved inappropriately when they barged in on the couple having sex.

The fiance had brought along the couple’s infant daughter for the scheduled Saturday visit. After a few minutes of playing with their child, the couple fed her and put her to sleep in a stroller.

After the baby had fallen asleep, the inmate and his fiance hopped in the adjacent bed and began to get intimate.

Suddenly, there was a light knock on the door at which point two male guards entered the visiting room while the couple lay naked between the sheets.

They ordered the inmate to come outside with them, although they allowed him to put his clothes on before escorting him out of the room, leaving his naked fiance and sleeping daughter behind.

The guards chastised the inmate, claiming that “it is a crime against social services laws to have naked sexual relations in a room when a child is present”.

As a result, they were forced to step in and break off such activities when they occur.

In her complaint, the fiance called the guards’ behaviour “insulting and invasive”, and the ombudsman agreed.

Not only did the ombudsman express doubts over the merits of the general ban on sex in the presence of a child, but she also argued that the guards could have explained the policy to the couple before they entered the room.

“To barge into the visiting room at such a sensitive moment constitutes a huge invasion into the inmate’s and his visitor’s personal privacy and requires great tact and consideration,” Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman Cecilia Nordenfelt wrote in her decision.

If the point of the interruption was simply to inform the inmate about the rules, there must have been “other, more considerate ways to deal with the situation”, she added in issuing her critique of the prison guards’ actions.

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