Prison protocol

Legal breach exposed in therapist killing

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Geneva's cantonal president Charles Beer speaking to the mediaImage Caption:

Geneva's cantonal president Charles Beer speaking to the media (Keystone)

An investigation by canton Geneva authorities into the case of a social worker allegedly murdered by a prisoner has concluded that the assailant should never have been allowed to leave the prison.

A 34-year-old female therapist was found dead near Geneva in September after being permitted to drive a prisoner to his weekly equestrian therapy session. On the way, they stopped at a knife store to buy a tool to clean horse hooves – a purchase the prison had authorised. Instead, the prisoner supposedly purchased a different knife and used it to slay his social worker.

The suspect then fled Switzerland and was arrested days later by German police near the German-Polish border.

A cantonal investigation into the decisions made at La Pâquerette social therapy centre, part of the Champ Dollon prison, where the convicted sex offender was doing time, found that the 39-year-old French-Swiss dual citizen should never have been allowed to leave the prison and that his detention plan was carried out improperly.
 
According to the investigation, the department of corrections failed to recognise the results of two previous psychiatric assessments that would have shown the prisoner’s instability and risk of re-offending. Procedurally, prison officials should have taken those assessments into account and sought permission from an outside commission for the prisoner to leave the facility, the report found.

Convict re-offends

Political outcry follows suspected murder

Police found the body of a 34-year-old prison therapist in the woods near Geneva on Friday

After a convict escaped from a canton Geneva prison and is suspected of re-offending by killing his therapist on Thursday, many Swiss politicians have urgently called for reform of the justice system.  [...]

Formal apology

At a press conference announcing the results of the investigation, Charles Beer, the president of Geneva’s cantonal government, apologised to the family of the social worker for the prison system’s shortcomings in the case.
 
“The state has failed in the protection of its employees,” he told the media and the victim’s family.
 
Beer added, however, that the tragic homicide was not due to legal loopholes and that current laws must be adhered to before a change in legislation is considered.

Although the cantonal government wants to continue to rehabilitate offenders, the cantonal security department has indicated it will tighten the screws on rehabilitation programmes and impose stricter conditions in future. And, all cars used to drive prisoners to appointments or therapy sessions will be outfitted with GPS transmitters from now on.
 
In the wake of the report, the director of La Pâquerette centre has been suspended from her post while an investigation into her role is carried out, a spokeswoman for Geneva University Hospitals, who employed her, confirmed to the Swiss News Agency.

 
 
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