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New prison policy Deaths prompt heightened inmate scrutiny

Bochuz prison, located north of Lausanne, is one of the institutions that will be affected by the policy

(Keystone)

Canton Vaud has introduced a new prison policy to better identify dangerous inmates following two deaths in 2010 and 2013. The revamped procedures are meant to improve cooperation between prison guards and psychiatrists who evaluate offenders. 

The new policy was prompted by the death of a prisoner in 2010 and the killing of a 19-year-old woman by a former inmate three years later. The second death occurred after a psychopathic inmate was released on house arrest two-thirds of the way through serving a custodial sentence for killing another woman. 

Cantons Aargau and Zurich have previously overhauled their release policies following murders by former prison inmates. 

Psychiatrists in Vaud are now obliged to inform prison staff as soon as warning signs about inmates become apparent. 

The re-think also highlights the issue of overcrowding in many Swiss prisons. In canton Vaud, there are on average 1,000 inmates behind bars against a capacity of 799 in the canton. Individual jails are overcrowded at between 150% and 170% of capacity. 

Since 2012, Vaud has increased capacity by 250 and hired 150 new full-time staff to help cope with overcrowding. Other cantons are also facing the problem of overcrowding, most notably Geneva in recent years. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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