German jails are at maximum capacity nationwide: report

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German jails are at maximum capacity nationwide: report
A view from a prision in Hamburg, a city where jail capacity is well over 90 percent. Photo: DPA

Prisons across all German states are seriously overcrowded, according to a media report. In some states, attacks on prison guards have also increased.


According to a report published by Funke Media Group newspapers on Wednesday, there is a growing shortage of space in Germany's prisons, with jails in most states having already reached full capacity.

A survey conducted by the Funke Media Group with the Ministries of Justice across all federal states showed a utilization rate in prisons as high as 100 percent, as was the case in Baden-Württemberg.

In other states like Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg and Rhineland-Palatinate, capacity utilization in jails averaged well over 90 percent for 2017.

According to prison experts cited in the report, "full occupancy" is defined as the point when a jail's occupancy rate is at 85 to 90 percent. This puts most German jails in 2017 at or over full capacity.

In addition to a growing space problem within Germany's jails, several states have also reported an increase in the number of attacks on prison personnel.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the number of assaults more than doubled from 34 to 72 between 2016 and 2017. In Bavaria, however, the number has dropped from 65 to 50.

According to the media report, prisoners identifying as Islamists are of particular concern to the prison system.

Ministry officials reported that the number of "Islamist prisoners" in Hesse, for example, has more than tripled since 2013.

The chairman of the German Federation of Prison Employees, René Müller, told the Funke newspapers that the prison system in Germany is currently completely overloaded.

Union faction leader Volker Kauder (CDU) called for improvements to the conditions in German prisons. "The penal system must not be neglected any further," Kauder said.


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