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Asylum policy From convicts to migrants: the transformation of Moutier

The prison in Moutier in northwestern Switzerland holds asylum seekers destined for expulsion. This has brought major changes for employees and the institution. 

Since July 1, 2018, Moutier has become a specialised prison.  It is responsible for the administrative detention of asylum seekers awaiting expulsion. A total of 28 places are available: 14 individual cells, 1 two-person cell and 4 three-person cells. This new role for the prison makes it easier to soften prison regulations, explains the management, since the incarceration regime is not as strict as in criminal detention facilities. A major change for the staff and the overall functioning of the institution.

In Moutier, detainees who work (cleaning, laundry, making firewood bundles or cardboard packaging for the watchmaking industry) leave their cells between 9am and 6pm. Others can walk freely on both floors of the building between 12pm and 6pm and on the roof between 2pm and 5pm. The prison management told that its objective was to improve the daily lives of prisoners to the extent possible, while maintaining an effective security system.

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