Jump to content
Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]

Crowded convicts

Swiss prisoners enjoy more cell space

By swissinfo.ch and agencies

Overcrowding in Swiss prisons and detention centres eased slightly last year, but a shortage remains for convicts with mental health problems, according to a report.

“Compared with 2013, the occupancy situation in Swiss penal institutions is less dramatic than the previous year,” said the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors in its report “Capacity monitoring in forced confinement”, published on Monday.

Various plans and projects for the creation of additional space had been pushed forward, it noted.

Last year, a total of 7,589 places existed for convicted criminals in Switzerland.

The average occupancy rate across the country was 101%, but there were striking regional differences: while prisons in central German-speaking Switzerland were 82% full, those in French-speaking Switzerland were on average 130% full. The infamously overcrowded Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva was at 174% capacity, in other words it was holding almost twice as many prisoners than it was designed to hold.

Canton Geneva needed an additional 369 places for preventive detention and short-term prison sentences, the technical group concluded.

“From 2020, this shortage of space will be compensated for by transferring some prisoners to the Dardelles prison, currently being built in Geneva,” wrote the authors of the report. In neighbouring canton Vaud, 204 places were needed.

Seventy people were on the waiting list for open prisons and 599 for closed ones – the vast majority being men.

Between 1988 and 2015, the Swiss population increased 25.6% to almost 8.3 million. During the same period, the number of available prison places rose 23.6% to 7,343.

Psychiatric issues

One problem highlighted by the report was the lack of space for convicted criminals who have mental health problems.

Of the 53 people in this category in 2015, 17 were waiting for a place in a special department of a psychiatric clinic.

The report calculated there was a shortage of some 164 places in psychiatric clinics. However, there was no need for action regarding the accommodation for locked-up offenders, it said. 

Sign up for our free newsletter and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.

swissinfo.ch and agencies



All rights reserved. The content of the website by swissinfo.ch is copyrighted. It is intended for private use only. Any other use of the website content beyond the use stipulated above, particularly the distribution, modification, transmission, storage and copying requires prior written consent of swissinfo.ch. Should you be interested in any such use of the website content, please contact us via contact@swissinfo.ch.

As regards the use for private purposes, it is only permitted to use a hyperlink to specific content, and to place it on your own website or a website of third parties. The swissinfo.ch website content may only be embedded in an ad-free environment without any modifications. Specifically applying to all software, folders, data and their content provided for download by the swissinfo.ch website, a basic, non-exclusive and non-transferable license is granted that is restricted to the one-time downloading and saving of said data on private devices. All other rights remain the property of swissinfo.ch. In particular, any sale or commercial use of these data is prohibited.